A climate for ambition: Diplomatic preparations for COP26: Government Response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2019–21

First Special Report

On 19 April 2021, the Foreign Affairs Committee published its Seventh Report of Session 2019–21, A climate for ambition: Diplomatic preparations for COP26 (HC 202). The Government’s response was received on 18 June 2021 and is appended below.

Appendix: Government Response


1.COP26 will be a key moment for global climate action. We have been encouraged by the number of countries that have expressed the importance of the climate agenda in international fora; COP26 must now translate these words into actions. The UK Presidency will need to mobilise public engagement so that as countries come forward with ambitious climate targets, those promises are backed by people around the world. COP26 will not be considered a success unless the UK Presidency sets the world on a path to net zero, secures an ambitious green finance package, and helps to build resilience to the impacts of climate change. (Paragraph 9)

1.1COP26 will be the moment we secure our path to global net zero emissions by 2050 and define the next decade of tackling climate change.

1.2This November at COP26 world leaders will meet with the aim to agree how to tackle the urgent threat of global climate change. Together with our Italian partners we will work to prevent global temperatures rising above 1.5C and protect our planet and people from the intensifying impacts of climate change.

1.3If we don’t act immediately, by the end of the century we will warm the world by at least 3C. This would cause catastrophic flooding, pollution, bush fires, extreme weather, and the destruction of species.

1.4To prevent this, the UK will spend the months up to COP26 taking four key goals to governments across the world: (1) secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach: countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets, (2) adapt to protect communities and natural habitats: at COP26 we need to work together to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, put warning systems in place, and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient, (3) mobilise finance: developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year, (4) work together to deliver: at COP26 we must finalise the Paris rulebook and we have to turn our ambitions into action.

2.We welcome the Government’s announcement of four headline ‘objectives’ for its COP26 Presidency. However, beyond this announcement there has been little detail on what the UK Government wants to achieve. Setting ambitious expectations will be crucial to securing the success of the conference and the Government will need to do more than just set out broad ambitions. We recommend that the Government ensures that the process for setting objectives for COP26 is inclusive and incorporates the views of the Least Developed Countries and the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. We recommend that before the beginning of the G7 conference in June, the Government expands its headline objectives into a clear list of targets that the UK Presidency wants to achieve in Glasgow. Using the two events together to mobilise support will give a greater opportunity for success. Only by working with networks of partners will the FCDO ensure that more ambitious NDCs are put forward, and only by making plans early and engaging others will the Government secure buy in from other UNFCCC Parties. (Paragraph 10)

2.1The Four Goals strategy is a combination of the three Paris goals (Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance) with the fourth goal being mandated for the Presidency (Collaboration: closing the ‘Paris rulebook’ in the negotiations). In Collaboration we have also added campaigns to bring about long term change in the three highest emitting sectors of energy, transport and land use. Both the Adaptation and Finance goals aim to ensure that COP26 addresses the concerns of developing and climate vulnerable countries. In drawing up the strategy, CPD and senior officials had numerous conversations with developing countries, and also a broad selection of civil society organisations, to ensure the strategy is inclusive, comprehensive and ambitious.

2.2As the COP President Designate Alok Sharma set out in his speech on the 14 May at Whitelee Windfarm in Glasgow, it is critical that we adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects, particularly for the most vulnerable countries. At COP26, we want countries to accelerate the phase-out of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles. We need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives. Developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. We will engage and collaborate with governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.

2.3To deliver on our aims for COP, it is critical that developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020. International financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions of dollars in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

2.4We are already seeing progress. When the UK began work as the incoming COP Presidency, less than 30% of global GDP was covered by net zero targets—we are now at 70% of global GDP. We will use the G7, G20, and COP-convened ministerial meetings to shore up ambitious commitments from countries. On 21 May, the Climate and Environment Ministers of the G7, under UK leadership, secured historic commitments which will put climate, biodiversity and the environment at the heart of worldwide Covid-19 recovery. This year is already the first ever ‘net zero G7’, with all countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest, with deep emissions reduction targets in the 2020s. The group also agreed to phase out government funding for fossil fuel projects internationally—following a leading commitment made by the UK in December. As a first step the G7 countries will end all new finance for coal power by the end of 2021, matched by increased support for clean energy alternatives like solar and wind. It was also agreed to accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity and to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s.

2.5The G7 has agreed to increase the quantity of finance for climate action, including for nature, in order to meet the $100bn per annum target to support developing countries. At the G7 Leaders Summit, Canada committed to double climate finance towards 2025, including increased grant finance, and Germany to increase by a further 2bn Euros per year, reaching 6bn Euros by 2025 at the latest. Japan pledged to maintain its 2020 levels each year through to 2025, with enhanced adaptation finance. This is important progress, but we recognise that much more needs to be done. On 5 June, G7 Finance Ministers also accelerated action on environmental issues, following in the UK’s footsteps by committing for the first time to properly embed climate change and biodiversity loss considerations into economic and financial decision-making. Glasgow will be a critical milestone for this work, and will finalise the terms of the agreement the world came together to make in Paris.

3.We welcome the Government’s commitment to make climate change its number one international priority this year, but the responsibility of the UK does not end when COP26 concludes. The UK must continue its efforts as the torchbearer for the next COP, and beyond, to continue to ratchet up ambition on climate change. The FCDO and the UK’s diplomatic network will have a key role to play in this process. In order to ensure a successful legacy for the UK’s COP Presidency, we recommend that the FCDO publishes an environmental diplomacy strategy, defining the Department’s foreign policy aims for the UK’s COP26 Presidency and beyond, and that it establishes a unit that can support future presidencies. The UK must commit to working closely with the African COP27 Presidency, including with the loan of staff and expertise, to sustain momentum on global climate action; particularly on adaptation, resilience, finance and loss and damage. Without a future commitment Glasgow risks being a one-off jamboree of voice and worry, changing nothing but airmiles. (Paragraph 11)

3.1The Government has set out in the Integrated Review its commitment to make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss the UK’s number one international priority in 2021 and beyond. Delivering on this commitment will require a whole-of-Government approach and we are working with departments on a strategy to operationalise the climate and biodiversity elements of the IR. We will update the FAC in due course. The UK will assume the presidency of COP in November 2021 for a year, and will continue to drive ambition globally in the years after our presidency through a range of activities.

3.2We are working to embed climate and environmental considerations in the full range of the UK’s international work, notably in our diplomatic and development efforts. Alongside our diplomatic engagement to deliver a successful COP26, we are doubling the UK’s international climate finance and working to align all UK official development assistance (ODA) with the Paris climate agreement and wider environmental safeguards, including by phasing out support for fossil fuels. These efforts, alongside our domestic commitment to ‘net zero’ and Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, are significant evidence of the UK’s commitment to action and underpin our international leadership in this space.

3.3We will continue to use the UK’s diplomatic convening power after COP26, working closely with the African COP27 Presidency and those that follow, to deliver on the commitments made at COP26. Ensuring we have the staff and expertise in place will be important for doing so. Specific decisions on resourcing and structures beyond this year will be taken as part of the next Spending Review, and we will set out our plans thereafter.


4.Environmental diplomacy can enhance the UK’s global leadership in line with the UK’s vision for ‘Global Britain’ set out in the Integrated Review. Covid-19 has delayed international progress on climate action but has provided more time for the UK to prepare the ground for a successful COP26. Every foreign engagement the UK undertakes in the lead up to COP26 can be an opportunity for environmental diplomacy. Environmental negotiations will need to take place within UN frameworks, in bilateral talks with countries, during trade negotiations, at the G7 and the G20, and in the UK’s engagement with NGO’s and the private sector. The UK will also need to ensure that climate objectives are effectively integrated into other foreign policy decisions, including decisions on international security, global health, and overseas aid. (Paragraph 18)

4.1As set out in the Integrated Review, tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is this Government’s number one international priority. COP26 is a critical step and the Foreign Secretary is working with the COP President-Designate to help deliver an ambitious set of outcomes.

4.2Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is a priority for our diplomatic network and FCDO Ministerial engagement. The Ministerial team is supported by the COP26 Unit and our Heads of Mission, who are in turn supported in their climate work by our overseas network of Climate, Energy and Environment Attachés, which numbers around 462 UK diplomatic staff and Country Based Staff (190 Full Time Equivalents). They are additionally supported by four senior COP26 Regional Ambassadors. The CEO of COP26, Peter Hill, UK COP26 Envoy, John Murton, and Lead Negotiator, Archie Young, are all seconded from the FCDO, so diplomatic expertise and engagement is at the heart of the team.

4.3FCDO Ministers regularly raise climate issues in a range of fora—including bilateral engagements, negotiations, multilateral summits, and in engagements with NGOs and the private sector. For example, the Foreign Secretary has recently raised climate issues during bilateral engagements with the US, Canada, Australia, France, South Africa, and Japan; in engagements with the Confederation of British Industry and International Financial Institutions; and through co-hosting the Climate & Development Ministerial (C&DM), which was attended by Ministers from 35 climate vulnerable and donor countries. The UK is also using its G7 Presidency in 2021 to advance our climate agenda and harness the G7’s strength, providing crucial momentum in the run up to COP26. At the G7 Summit in Cornwall, leaders held a bespoke session on climate and nature, building on substantive Sherpa negotiations, which continue throughout the year. The UK is pursing climate and nature objectives across several G7 Ministerial Tracks (Foreign & Development, Finance, Climate and Environment and Trade), including the Foreign Secretary hosting the G7 Foreign & Development Ministers on 4–5 May, and with the Climate and Environment Ministerial on 20–21 May. The G20, hosted this year by our COP26 partners Italy, provides another forum for demonstrating climate leadership, including through the Foreign Affairs and Development Ministerial on 29 June and the Climate and Energy Ministerial on 23 July.

4.4We are making progress. The 22 April US Leaders’ Summit saw new commitments from the US, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Brazil (all are G20 Members), with all G7 members having now committed to deep cuts to their emissions over the next decade, aligning with their net zero commitments. At May’s G7 Climate & Environment Ministerial, it was agreed to take concrete steps towards an absolute end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021. At the meeting of the G7 Foreign & Development Ministers, there was a commitment to make people safer from climate disasters through early warning, better preparedness and early action, and an agreement to scale up finance to help countries adapt to climate impacts. At the C&DM we saw consensus about the importance of practical action to help tackle climate impacts and the international community working together to improve access to climate finance.

4.5The COP President Designate has briefed all UN Member States three times and had productive discussions with numerous Government Ministers and climate negotiators on visits to Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Egypt, France, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Nigeria, Nepal, Spain, Qatar, UAE and Vietnam. He has raised climate with Indian Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi, Prime Minister Suga in Tokyo, US climate envoy John Kerry and several European Commissioners.

4.6We agree about the need to take a holistic approach to integrating climate objectives into other foreign policy decisions and Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending. Our Climate and Environment Board, chaired at Director-General level with senior level engagement from across the FCDO, is a mechanism for ensuring policy coherence. The introduction of the UK’s Fossil Fuels Policy from 31 March 2021 will end support to the fossil fuels energy sector overseas, and a new rule in the FCDO’s Programme Operating Framework will ensure we deliver on our commitment to align our ODA spending with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

5.The Government should ensure its objectives for COP26 are brought into all of the FCDO’s foreign policy activity, including trade deals, decisions on overseas aid and bilateral and multilateral conversations with other UNFCCC parties. The Government’s international development strategy should be published before COP26 and prioritise climate and biodiversity, listing the commitments that the UK will make along with pledges secured by partners. The recovery from Covid-19 will require a Marshall Plan-scale commitment from many and the UK should ensure that this aligns with environmental ambitions, embedding a green outlook into a new economy. The FCDO should communicate to its partners that environmental agendas are not in competition but integral to health, development, and security policies. For COP26 to be successful, the Government should ensure alignment with G7, G20 and COP15 processes and decisions. As both the COP26, G7 and G20 Presidents, the UK and Italian Governments are well placed to ensure this alignment. (Paragraph 19)

5.1The FCDO is working to deliver on the Government’s commitment to make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss the UK’s number one international priority in 2021 and beyond, as set out in the Integrated Review.

5.2With our world-leading legally binding commitment to achieve ‘net zero’ domestically by 2050 and our Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to catalyse a green, inclusive and resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK is uniquely placed to demonstrate in practice how tackling climate change and delivering economic growth can—and must—go hand in hand.

5.3As Presidents of both COP26 and the G7 this year, we are working to deliver progress on these challenges on a global scale. At the G7 Summit in Cornwall, Leaders agreed to develop a new partnership to build back better for the world, through a step change in our approach to investment for infrastructure, including through an initiative for clean and green growth. They agreed to develop a new strategic partnership with developing countries designed to provide a scaled, attractive additional infrastructure financing offer to support clean and green growth. Leaders committed to protect the planet by supporting a green revolution that creates jobs, cuts emissions and seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees. Leaders committed to the global mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. They agreed to build on the G7 Metz Charter on Biodiversity and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, championing their delivery, to help set the necessary trajectory for nature to 2030.

5.4Together with partners across Government, the FCDO is pursuing action across our Presidencies, as well as working closely with our Italian partners to engage the G20. We are championing this agenda in other multilateral fora, too, notably at the UN where the UK hosted the first ever UN Security Council discussion on climate security in February, as well as with the International Financial Institutions.

5.5We are committed to ensuring the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) delivers for people and the planet. The livelihoods of 70% of people worldwide living in poverty depend directly on the environment, its biodiversity and natural resources. The effects of climate change are already impacting on the world’s poorest and, without urgent action, climate impacts could push up to 129 million people into poverty by 2030. The achievement of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development will only be possible through properly integrating climate and environment considerations into development. We will set out what this means for the UK’s international development offer in our forthcoming international development strategy.

5.6That is why we are committed to doubling the UK’s international climate finance (ICF), to £11.6 billion by 2025/26, to aligning all UK ODA with the Paris agreement, and to doing more to protect and restore nature. The FCDO, as the majority spender of the UK’s ODA and, within that, of the UK’s ICF, has a major role to play in achieving these aims. The FCDO has reflected the prioritisation of climate change and the environment in our internal prioritisation of resources: In April, the Foreign Secretary confirmed, the FCDO will deliver more than £941m of activities this year, across all themes that count towards the UK’s flagship £11.6bn International Climate Finance target. And we will be prioritising climate and biodiversity in our planning for the forthcoming multiyear Spending Review.

5.7We recognise the importance of embedding climate and environment objectives into UK trade and we have done so in our strategic approach to continuing negotiations for new trade agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand for example. In the UK’s public documents outlining our approach to Free Trade Agreements with these partners, published prior to negotiations, we have undertaken to secure provisions that support and help further the Government’s ambition on climate change and achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, including promoting clean growth, trade in low carbon goods and services, supporting research and development collaboration, maintaining both parties’ right to regulate in pursuit of decarbonisation and reaffirming commitment to international standards on the environment.

5.8As stated in the Integrated Review, the UK will seek to promote green trade as part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity loss. Our mission in Geneva actively contributes to discussions at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on trade, climate and environment issues, such as on environmental goods and services which we are also promoting through the UK G7’s Presidency. Our core principles of free and fair trade include promoting and protecting our environmental standards in our trade deals.

6.All countries share a common interest in preserving the planet—the global impacts of the climate crisis mean that COP26 will provide an opportunity for the UK to exercise soft power and rebuild relationships with key countries where differences remain on other issues. The UK Government should use its COP26 Presidency as an opportunity to open dialogues with countries and people around the world on common climate issues. The UK should capitalise on opportunities for collaboration, with like-minded partners on intellectual property sharing for green technology. The FCDO can play a key role in collecting information for the COP Unit, engaging in discussions with countries around the world to discover ‘red lines’ and areas where there is negotiating flexibility. If our diplomatic network is to be effective, posts will need to be set clear negotiating objectives. It will also be essential to secure public support for climate polices. We recommend that the FCDO sets out an engagement strategy that goes beyond governments, using international media and public engagement to promote behavioural change and popular commitment to climate polices. (Paragraph 24)

6.1To help deliver a successful COP26, climate diplomacy is at the centre of the work of the whole FCDO diplomatic network. COP26 is a central part of how we approach economics, politics, development and soft power locally. The Integrated Review also defined tackling climate change and biodiversity loss as the UK’s highest international priority for the next decade. Heads of Mission and climate attachés and advisers are given clear and specific engagement priorities on a regular basis at all levels of the COP26 campaign. This includes both short-term lobbying instructions, and longer-term political objectives and goals. For example, in addition to regular verbal briefings, we write to all Heads of Mission on a quarterly basis setting out specific diplomatic priorities for the network for the coming period in line with the four goals of the COP campaign.

6.2This is supported by constant engagement by the COP26 Regional Ambassadors with Embassies across their regions, a weekly network newsletter with over one and a half thousand recipients, and an extensive programme of seminars and teach-ins to ensure our diplomats have the skills and knowledge to deliver our instructions. The COP President Designate has also personally written to all Heads of Mission to share more information about what the four goals mean in practice, and has held a number of video-conference calls with them in recent months and will hold more in the months to COP26.

6.3This approach ensures that our diplomatic network has a clear sense of what success looks like, but also the specific deliverables to pursue locally to both deliver a successful COP and also to strengthen the long-term bilateral relationship. Posts are encouraged and asked to engage not just host governments but businesses, sub-national actors, civil society, indigenous groups and faith actors. For example, UK diplomats across Europe have been collaborating with Corporate Leaders Group and other members of the We Mean Business network, setting up interactive workshops for businesses to learn more about, and get advice for, committing to Business Ambition for 1.5C. Further, UK diplomats in Africa have been promoting climate education and strengthening youth participation in building climate-resilient communities across Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda; and as part of the Resilient 40 programme, have been promoting the use of sustainable practices in specific Internally Displaced Persons and refugee camps across the continent. Finally, UK Missions are working closely with faith leaders to inspire governments and communities to increase their ambition and to deliver an inclusive COP. The Embassies of the United Kingdom and Italy to the Holy See, together with the Holy See, will convene a meeting of religious leaders and scientists in Rome in autumn 2021 to build momentum for COP26.

6.4The FCDO Communication team, along with communication teams across the FCDO global network, work closely with COP Unit to deliver communication activity to help raise awareness of and promote support for COP26 amongst international audiences, including leaders, decision makers and wider populations. Activity is delivered via the full spectrum of communication channels, including media and engaging influencers and advocates with domestic and global reach to drive awareness of COP26, inspire climate ambition and action, and demonstrate the diverse and inclusive nature of the UK’s COP26 Presidency.

6.5Furthermore, through the FCDO global network, there has been media engagement on amplifying UK domestic announcements including the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan, publication of the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution and end to new overseas fossil fuel financing, collectively positioning the UK as global leader on environmental protections, supporting our COP26 Presidency’s work to drive greater ambition and commitments from other nations.

7.The US Climate Summit and COP15 (the biodiversity COP) will be two key moments where the UK will need to take stock of progress and push for increased ambition. As the COP26 President, the UK should play a leading role in both the preparations for the US conference and during the conference itself. We recommend that the UK works closely with the US administration to align the objectives of the US climate summit on 22 April with the objectives of COP26. The United States’ unquestioned importance in the pledging of climate commitments should not replace the UK’s diplomatic role in bringing together other partners. It will be important for the FCDO to find ways to build bridges between both processes as well as pushing for ambitious commitments from the USA and China at COP26. (Paragraph 25)

7.1The Prime Minister and President Biden agree on the crucial importance of combating climate change and have shared their objectives for the G7 and COP26. The COP President Designate Alok Sharma has frequent meetings with US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, both in person and virtually to ensure that our diplomatic efforts are aligned.

7.2Officials in the COP Unit are in close contact with their counterparts in the Biden Administration supporting this aim. This high level of cooperation and coordination helped contribute to the success of the US Leaders’ Summit on Climate on 22 April and will continue through to the G7, COP26 and beyond.

7.3In addition to working closely with the US, we also need them to show leadership through their actions. We were pleased to see the US commit to reduce their emissions by 50–52% by 2030—and we will continue to press them to lead by example by taking ambitious climate action and increasing their climate finance contribution.

7.4As the world’s largest emitter and investor in renewable energy, China also has an important role to play. The PM and President Xi have agreed that the UK and China should work together as respective hosts of UNFCCC COP26 and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15, to achieve mutually supportive outcomes at both summits. We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts, and with the UN Secretariats of the climate (UNFCCC), biodiversity (CBD) and desertification (CCD) conventions to strengthen the links between these conventions to deliver key outcomes for nature. The COP President Designate also met with the Environment Minister Huang and the Special Envoy for Climate Change, Xie Zhenhua.

7.5We welcome China’s commitment to achieve net zero before 2060 and encourage China to announce a scaled up NDC and provide more detail on how it will reduce its coal consumption to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

8.The UK has a strong record for building coalitions for climate action, such as the High Ambition Coalition at UN climate negotiations, and it could build upon this during its COP Presidency. Summits such as the global summit on climate and development provide an important opportunity to influence those countries most affected by the impacts of climate change. The UK Government should look to build overlapping circles of interest to build support for change and to drive forward global ambition. Building on partnerships that may be temporary, the UK should enable with staff support, though not always lead, groups of low-lying states, island nations, developing economies, high ambition states, and vulnerable country groups, amongst others, building on the work of the Small Island Developing States. We recommend that the FCDO make use of their relationships with the previous Chilean hosts, the Italian co-presidents, and other regional partners to build a network of sectoral leaders to help secure a worldwide push for increased climate ambition. The UK’s Presidency should be viewed as organisational and enabling. (Paragraph 26)

8.1Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other countries most immediately vulnerable to climate impacts play a pivotal role in tackling climate change and are unwavering champions for ambitious climate action. We are committed to working in partnership with SIDS and other key constituencies to achieve an ambitious, shared outcome at COP26 that facilitates ambition not only on mitigation, but also on adaptation and finance. In his recent visits, including to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria and Vietnam, the COP President Designate has met some of the communities most vulnerable to climate change, as well holding regular virtual meetings.

8.2The UK COP Presidency is seeking to amplify SIDS voices and drive action on their priority issues. As the report reflects, we are doing this, for example, through the recent Climate and Development Ministerial. This virtual event brought together Ministers from 35 climate vulnerable and donor countries and representatives from institutions and civil society, to develop further solutions on adaptation, climate finance, and debt. One outcome is that the UK is partnering with Fiji to initiate a new Access to Finance Task Force.

8.3We are also working with SIDS such as St Lucia on adaptation initiatives, for example the Adaptation Action Coalition and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership. The UK is also co-chair of the NDC Partnership with Jamaica. The Partnership convenes 110 countries and over 60 organisations to help countries implement their Nationally Determined Contributions and access finance.

8.4We have a strong partnership with Italy and are jointly committed to encouraging the highest possible ambition from all parties ahead of COP26, and, as reflected above, to leveraging our G7 and G20 Presidencies to drive forward the COP26 campaigns.

8.5Since COP 25, a close partnership has also been established between the UK and Chilean COP Presidencies. In particular, collaboration has focused on driving increased climate ambition globally as well as progress on the UNFCCC negotiations on the road to Glasgow. For example, Chile partnered the UK, Italy and France to deliver the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020; at the 2020 UN General Assembly, COP 25 President, Carolina Schmidt, and COP 26 President Designate, Alok Sharma, made a joint statement calling for more ambitious commitments from countries across mitigation, adaptation and finance; and, throughout 2021, Chile and the UK are jointly leading monthly consultations on diverse elements of the climate negotiations with countries’ Heads of Delegations. There is also active collaboration between the UK and Chile to promote real economy action, for instance through the ‘Race to Zero’ and ‘Race to Resilience’ campaigns launched by the COP 25 and 26 High Level Climate Action Champions and Chile’s membership of the COP 26 Energy Transition Council.

9.In order to map the whole picture, it is important that the Government organise inclusive pre-meetings and do not simply hold pre-meetings on a regional basis. The Government should publish the agenda of these meetings to ensure inclusivity and to allow other countries to monitor the status of discussions. (Paragraph 27)

9.1We will continue to engage with all Parties and stakeholders to power the process and agenda forward in the next 6 months, ensuring we arrive in Glasgow having done our homework and prepared to conclude a comprehensive set of outcomes; including but not limited to a series of monthly multilateral consultations involving all groups and Parties on diverse elements of the climate negotiations. These consultations have been designed with inclusivity in mind, taking into consideration concerns raised by parties regarding working across times zones. The results of each consultation are publicly available on the UNFCCC website.

9.2The July Ministerial will be the next inclusive meeting, with a gathering of a globally representative group of ministers in the UK at the end of the month. The Lead Negotiator also co-chairs monthly multilateral consultations with his Chilean counterpart, focusing on the major negotiating topics. All heads of delegation are invited to these, where they hold conversations in two parts across two different time zone slots which are rotated in order to maximise participation and so that no part of the world is consistently disadvantaged by the scheduling. A summary of each discussion is published online for added inclusivity and transparency.

9.3As the incoming Presidency, we are committed to working with our COP26 partners Italy, the current COP Presidency Chile, the Chairs of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies and the UNFCCC Secretariat to provide clarity and direction to the process at this challenging time, whilst remaining flexible to ongoing coronavirus developments. We will continue to do so in a transparent and inclusive manner, through consulting with parties and sharing agendas well ahead of time.

9.4In addition, we will continue to take full advantage of the established moments in the international climate change calendar to build conditions conducive to success in Glasgow. These include the Petersberg Climate Dialogue earlier this month co-chaired with Germany, the G7, the UN General Assembly and New York Climate Week, as well as Pre-COP to be hosted by our COP26 partner Italy.

10.It is essential that domestic policy decisions support rather than undermine diplomatic efforts. We recommend that the UK leads by example and sets ambitious domestic climate policies. We welcome the introduction of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and recommend that the Government continue to explore and promote opportunities presented by new green technologies. HM Treasury is a key partner to the FCDO. Financial instruments that ensure enduring responsibility for environmental impact will be essential to demonstrate the UK’s enduring commitment to a green agenda and key to ensuring that the City’s leadership is used to embed change. (Paragraph 29)

10.1Through the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and our Energy White Paper, we have set out concrete steps we will take to build back greener from the pandemic and reach net zero emissions by 2050. We laid legislation in April for the UK’s sixth carbon budget, proposing a world-leading target which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. This latest bold step demonstrates our continued leading role in tackling climate change, with a domestic target consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goal. Ahead of COP26, we will bring forward further bold proposals, including a Net Zero Strategy, to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country—going further and faster towards building a stronger, more resilient future and protecting our planet for this generation and those to come.

10.2Delivering our net zero objective will require deep decarbonisation of all sectors. The Net Zero Innovation Programme (NZIP) will spend £1bn over the next 4 years to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies, systems and business models in power, buildings and industry. It will decrease the costs of decarbonisation and set the UK on path to Net Zero, create world-leading industries and new jobs, invest in our regions and help make the UK a science and innovation superpower. The portfolio focuses on ten priority areas that correspond with the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, including: Floating offshore wind; Nuclear advanced modular reactors; Energy storage & flexibility; Bioenergy; Hydrogen; Homes; Direct air capture and Advanced CCUS; Industrial fuel switching; and disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence for energy.

10.3We also know that financial services will be a critical enabler in mobilizing green investment at the pace and scale required—and that is why green finance is a key priority for this Government. In November 2020, the Chancellor announced a UK green taxonomy. This will provide firms and investors a common definition for environmentally sustainable economic activities. It takes the EU taxonomy as a starting point and HMG is considering amendments where appropriate to ensure it is suitable for the UK market, and consistent with UK climate goals. In November the Chancellor announced that the UK will become the first country in the world to make Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) aligned disclosures fully mandatory across the economy by 2025, going beyond the ‘comply or explain’ approach. The joint Government-Regulator TCFD Taskforce concurrently published its interim report with a roadmap for implementation.

11.COP26 must aim to secure a form of realistic pricing of carbon output that prevents carbon offshoring and fully prices in the cost of the production of goods and transport. Building on the G7 and G20 to ensure the burden is carried by the commissioning country, and to incentivise change in producing nations, will change a simple equation based on the cost of energy to one based on the cost to the planet. The UK’s financial services sector, and particularly its insurance industry, is well placed to understand these costs. Using new forms of finance to look at cost-sharing based on innovative ledgers would provide an opportunity to realise the impact and share the reward of growth, while encouraging cross-industry and jurisdictional cooperation on climate targets. (Paragraph 30)

11.1As the world transitions to net zero, it is important we ensure that ambitious climate policy interventions do not lead to carbon leakage. Carbon pricing is not a mandated discussion for COP26, and so will not be an outcome, but we acknowledge the risk of carbon leakage to decarbonisation goals, and the potential impact it could have on those countries that have adopted rigorous approaches to reduce carbon emissions, and agree that countries should work collaboratively to address this risk.

11.2Carbon leakage is caused by different countries mitigating emissions at different rates. So, we support an international, multilateral response. In the G7 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors communiqué, issued after the London meeting on 4–5 June, we committed to a multi-year effort to deliver the significant structural change needed to meet our net zero commitments and environment objectives in a way that is positive for jobs, growth, competitiveness and fairness. As part of this, they committed to properly embed climate change and biodiversity loss considerations into economic and financial decision-making, including the optimal use of the range of policy levers to price carbon. The UK G7 Presidency will continue to work with our international partners to follow through on the need to increase the use of the range of policy levers to price carbon.


12.For COP26 to be successful, the Government will need to ensure that negotiations are inclusive and take into account the viewpoints of the Least Developed Countries and the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It will not be possible to guarantee that negotiations are inclusive unless the Government ensures that people from the world’s Least Developed Countries have effective access to them. Poor internet access and connectivity could prove a real barrier to hosting an inclusive conference. Diplomatic efforts during the pandemic and recovery must recognise these challenges, participants should be supported with accessing negotiations and the Government must recognise situations where in-person diplomacy is needed. The event should be viewed as an opportunity to look at new ways of connecting communities, not just an obstacle. (Paragraph 34)

12.1We are working tirelessly to deliver a safe, successful COP26 in Glasgow this November and want to be able to hold this in-person. We are aware that many parties, in particular the Least Developed Countries and those vulnerable to the effects of climate change, feel strongly that COPs should be conducted in person. On 11 June the Government announced that it will provide vaccines for COP delegates otherwise unable to access them and is exploring with the UN how we can deliver this together. This offer is essential for delivering an in-person COP, which is critical to a successful outcome at the Summit itself. We are at the early stages of developing this offer and will set out further details in due course.

12.2In addition to our contingency planning, we are considering how we can build on new ways of working and advances in technology to enhance participation and inclusivity.

12.3We know that some parties have concerns with virtualisation and of course there are practical challenges delivering virtual elements. The world of virtual events is moving fast and we need to be open to learning and adapting plans as lessons are learnt and people’s attitudes towards them change. We will work closely with all our partners, and the UNFCCC, to consider what the right virtual offer could be for COP26.

13.The UK Government must recognise that it may not be possible for 30,000 delegates to attend a conference in November. There is a distinct possibility that large parts of the summit will have to be moved online or downscaled because of risks from Covid-19. Those participating need more certainty on how covid may affect the logistics of the conference. In response to our report the UK Government should set out the criteria it will use to determine whether COP26 can go ahead as an in-person conference. We recommend that the Government set out what will happen if COP26 cannot have an in-person ‘green zone’ or if the main conference cannot go ahead with the expected number of attendees. The Government should also set out priorities for in-person attendees and contingency plans for virtual or hybrid events. (Paragraph 35)

13.1We are working closely with our public health officials, Scottish Government, Glasgow Council and the UNFCCC to ensure we can safely host an in-person COP.

13.2Our contingency planning will continue to review the most appropriate options for engagement to ensure we provide the right virtual offer for COP26; this planning includes reviewing the Green Zone and the possibility of hybrid events. We will provide further details to Parliament in due course.

14.Given the commitment of the global environmental community to a green agenda, a downscaled COP26 could become the first expression of a new approach to international climate diplomacy, rejecting airmiles for airwaves and living the message of carbon neutrality. (Paragraph 36)

14.1Our intent remains to hold the main conference in person, respecting the wishes of parties, many of whom feel strongly that the negotiations are best conducted in person to ensure an inclusive COP, especially those countries most directly impacted by climate change.

14.2Sustainability will be at the core of the COP26 event. We are aiming to achieve ISO20121 certification, which will address all aspects of sustainability of the event such as waste management, supply chain management and carbon management. We are working with Arup, our Sustainability Consultant on the principle priority to reduce emissions from the conference within a robust Carbon Management Plan, with any unavoidable carbon emissions from COP26 to be offset to be carbon neutral.

14.3We will encourage all delegates to consider low-carbon travel options and will be offsetting the emissions associated with travel, including those of the COP President and UK officials in the run up to COP26.

Published: 25 June 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement