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C40 COP26 Daily Briefing
Week 1
Looking back at Thursday, 4 November, 2021
Welcome to C40 COP26 Daily Briefings, a new C40 service to inform you of what's happening at the 26th UN Conference on Climate Change taking place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12, 2021. This daily COP26 briefing recaps the activities and announcements of the day and lets you know what's coming up the following day to ensure you are kept fully up to date on all COP26 discussions. You are receiving this email because you are a C40 member, or a C40 partner, or have joined the Cities Race to Zero campaign. If you do not wish to receive our emails, please unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this briefing. We hope these briefings will help you understand what's at stake at COP26. Happy reading!
What happened in the formal COP26 intergovernmental process?
  • 4 November was Energy Day at COP and announcements made show that coal phase out is finally taking momentum, and that the exclusion of coal from international public finance is slowly extending to oil and gas.
  • They also highlight the lack of attention paid to core elements of energy policies related to domestic exploration, extraction, regulation, and financing of fossil fuels.
  • Mitigation continues to dominate discussions. Some initial top-line analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that the potential impact of some of the announcements made so far at COP26 could, if met in full and on time, hold rise in global temperatures to 1.8°C by 2100. This would then keep the 1.5°C target squarely within reach. This analysis is a reminder of what is still possible to achieve only if there is bold and effective action to halve emissions by 2030, with serious progress following in the coming year. In this first week of COP, countries have delivered the headline pledges but it remains to be seen whether the second week delivers actions to meet these goals and measure progress against them.
  • Elements of a potential COP26 outcome cover text which could answer the push for acceleration from world leaders are beginning to emerge, though progress will depend on disentangling the complexity of the Glasgow package as noted by some Parties. Topics on the discussion table currently include the recognition of science as basis for climate action; gaps to Paris goals; the crucial role of nature; an ambition accelerator and robust accountability rulebook to keep 1.5°C within reach; accelerating adaptation finance and the global goal on adaptation; loss and damage progress and finance; a broad pre- and post-2025 finance package; access to concessional finance and debt sustainability for climate-vulnerable countries; mobilising, leveraging public and private finance for climate transitions; and dealing with climate impacts.
What did cities do in Glasgow?
  • C40, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and B Team launched the Just Transition and Energy Crisis Joint Statement. The statement puts forward a united front of mayors, unions, and businesses calling for government leadership to assist all actors in the two crises for urban residents - the climate crisis and jobs, as well as tackling the spiraling energy prices. Five C40 cities - Barcelona, Glasgow, London, New York City, and Seattle - have endorsed the statement. 
  • This new statement enriches the range of previous engagements made by C40 mayors on the topic of energy, such as the call to end public investments in fossil fuels in the Mayors’ Agenda for Green and Just Recovery and the U20 Communique. It also builds on the commitment to take all possible steps to accelerate the full decarbonisation of electricity, heating, cooling and cooking and the phasing out of fossil fuels in the C40 Clean Energy Declaration. The statement is underpinned by the findings that strong action to phase out coal and expand renewable, zero-carbon energy could save thousands of lives and create up to 6.4 million jobs worldwide by 2030, as demonstrated in the C40 report Coal-Free cities: the health and economic benefits of a clean energy revolution
  • Mayor Aki-Sawyerr of Freetown brought the voice of cities in the COP26 Energy agenda yesterday, talking about the challenges of energy access in African cities and the opportunities created by distributed renewables in terms of energy access and safety of the electricity grid.
  • For more information on the activities of Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA)  in Glasgow, please visit www.cities-and-regions.org (in partnership with ICLEI).
Other announcements/updates?
  • More than 20 countries (including Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, UK, Switzerland, the US) and development banks endorsed the Statement On International Public Support For The Clean Energy Transition, committing to end international direct public finance in all unabated fossil fuels by 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement. Unabated fossil fuel projects are defined as those that do not use technology to absorb the carbon pollution they emit, in other words that do not have any way of capturing the carbon pollution emitted via Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) mechanisms. This first-of-its-kind initiative has a wider scope and more ambitious timeframes than previous efforts, but is not binding and does not include key countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Spain
    • Notably, five African countries joined the declaration, in an unambiguous signal of demand for greater foreign investment in clean energy that could potentially have big repercussions for gas investment in Africa.
    • Italy unexpectedly joined at the last minute, sending a clear signal on the need to shift Italian and EU foreign policy and cooperation from fossil fuels (including gas) to clean energy. 
    • Canada’s surprising addition to the list makes it the first country within the G20 to dedicate international public finance towards ending fossil fuels.
    • Oil Change International estimates that if implemented effectively, it could directly shift more than US $18 billion a year of public support out of fossil fuels and into clean energy, which would make it the biggest public climate finance commitment at COP26, if not ever.
  • Energy Day also delivered strong signals on the phase out of coal, as 46 countries and subnationals (such as the State of Oregon, USA) and organisations signed the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition (GCCT) statement, committing to make clean power the most affordable and accessible option globally in a way that benefits workers and communities and ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030 (in line with SDG 7), i.e. stop building new coal-fired power plants and phase out coal power in the 2030s for major economies and in the 2040s for the others. This includes Egypt, the expected host of COP27, and three of the biggest coal-using countries globally - Indonesia, South Korea, and Vietnam, although with some caveats and lack of clarity on end dates. As a result, strengthened political and economic tailwinds now face an isolated group of remaining major coal fleet countries, specifically the US, Australia, India, and China.
  • France and the Province of Quebec, Canada joined the Beyond Oil and Gas (BOGA) alliance established by Denmark and Costa Rica that will be officially launched on 10 of November. The BOGA brings together states and others that have ended licensing for exploration and production of fossil fuels to align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • The US launched the Net Zero World Initiative in partnership with founding countries Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Ukraine to help countries implement their climate ambition pledges and accelerate transition to net-zero, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. As part of the G7 Build Back Better World Initiative and led by the US Department of Energy (DOE), this initiative will see countries working across US government and DOE’s national laboratories, as well as with a growing list of philanthropies, think tanks, businesses, and universities to create and implement highly tailored, actionable technology road maps and investment strategies that help them put net-zero within reach
  • Launched by several foundations (IKEA, Growald Climate Fund, European Climate Foundation), the Coal Asset Transition Accelerator (CATA) provides a platform and best practices for governments, utilities, companies, financiers, and civil society organisations to implement and scale coal transition mechanisms globally, with a focus on social justice.
  • Announcements at COP26 have made more resources available for mechanisms to support coal phase-out and just transition strategies, which are critical to ensuring the implementation of commitments towards decarbonisation on a Paris-compatible trajectory. In particular, COP26 has seen the emergence of funded coal retirement mechanisms, such as the US $8.5 billion agreement to support South Africa’s just transition away from coal (announced earlier this week), Climate Investment Funds’ £2 billion (CIF) Accelerating Coal Transition (ACT) investment programme to advance the just transition from coal to clean energy in emerging economies (South Africa, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines), and the launch of the Asian Development Bank’s US $25 million new Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM - also announced earlier this week) - recognising the need for finance to deliver just transitions of coal phase-out.
  • While the progress made by these headline announcements demonstrate a step up in country-led efforts to phase out fossil fuels and the international finance for them, they also highlight the lack of attention paid to core elements of energy policies related to domestic exploration, extraction, regulation, and financing of fossil fuels.
  • There are also growing concerns that countries are already starting to backslide on their commitments, two such examples being:
Parties should be pushed further to explain their transition paths, including which power sources to replace coal, as well as transition pathways for the whole of the wider energy system.
What's coming up today?
  • Tens of thousands of youth and the general public (up to 100,000 strong) are expected to take part in a climate march today starting at 11 am GMT in Glasgow organised by Fridays for Future in response to COP26. Youth activists, Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakata, and local trade unionists are expected to speak, calling on national governments to #UprootTheSystem and place the most affected people and areas at the centre of a society, which also puts people and planet over profit. There will also be calls to put climate justice at the heart of climate action.
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