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The Last Best Chance: Has COP26 managed to do enough?

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

It was billed as the 'last best chance' for the world to get on track for climate action and a sustainable future. Has #COP26 delivered on the promise?





The last two weeks have gone by in a whirl. The coming days and weeks will be full of detailed analysis of the commitments, the pledges and the flurry of announcements related to each day's theme.



There will be a lot of discussion about who was or wasn't in the hall. There will be debates on whether the wealthier nations have listened to the concerns of those least developed nations who are already experiencing the brunt of climate change.


We all know that the next steps will be critical, and the full impact will take many years to assess.


So, as we draw a tiny breath, we focus on just a few key takeaways we don't want to lose sight of - like the news that US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez developed a taste during her stay for Irn-Bru.


More seriously, we have selected two announcements that are likely to resonate long past the COP delegates have left.


  1. How did the US and China manage to forge a joint plan to cut emissions?

  2. How can we measure sustainability?


How did the US and China manage to forge a joint plan to cut emissions?


In a surprise press conference held on Wednesday, the US and China announced a detailed plan to work together on cutting their carbon emissions. It seems to have been unexpected, even to the hosts.


The China-US Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s focused on specific areas for the world's two biggest carbon emitters to work in collaboration.


These include cutting methane and carbon emissions from key sectors, including transport, energy and industry. If the scale of ambition is met, this will be a fairly hefty contribution to getting the world below the critical 1.5 degrees of temperature increase.


“Both sides recognise that there is a gap between the current effort and the Paris Agreement goals, so we will jointly strengthen our Paris efforts and cooperation … to accelerate a green and low carbon transition." Xie Zhenhua, China’s head of delegation.

There is, of course, a lot of work to do to turn commitment into actions. However, the joint statement itself is a testament to a potential corner being turned in global climate policy.


"You have to look beyond differences sometimes to find a way forward.” John Kerry, US Climate Envoy

Our second highlight emerged with a little less fanfare but is potentially one of the most critical results from COP. It tackles head-on the issue of the lack of trusted, shared sustainability measurement.


How can we measure sustainability?



How do we measure sustainability?

The ISSB will be the new standard-setting board. It is tasked to develop and deliver a global baseline for Environmental, Social and Governance reporting, informing investors about companies' risks and opportunities relating to sustainability.


We will be tracking this with interest, as robust measurement is a core pillar of our support to clients who are integrating sustainability into their business planning. Look out for more posts next week on why agreeing on how and what to measure is critical.


How can we follow the call to climate action?

In the opening session, the Prime Minister of Barbados reminded the conference delegates that a 2-degree global temperature increase would be a 'death sentence' to the vulnerable island and coastal states. She also set a challenge that is our ultimate collective test of the impact of Glasgow.

"We’ve come here today, to say, try harder." Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley

Our first step will be to bookmark the COP26 Outcomes page. It's a small step, but in the words of Confucius:

"A Journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step"
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In this decade of action, there is much work to be done - governments, individuals, businesses and not-for-profits, all need to take a leadership role and be responsible. Measuring impact with authenticity and accurate data is crucial to ensuring we hit sustainability-focused targets in time.


To learn more about what SDG Changemakers do and how we support organisations like yours, get in touch.








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