Net Zero is the new normal. This is what has to be decisively established starting Monday at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and brought home by COP26 in 2020.
There’s been a dramatic shift in the political landscape over the past two years, as climate impacts are affecting communities everywhere. People are taking to the streets realising there can be no security or prosperity anywhere if we do not act now. Eighteen of the hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the last two decades. Now we have eighteen months to change the political conversation around climate ambition. The gap remains between what the science says is necessary, what the people taking to the streets are demanding, and the actions global leaders are prepared to commit to. How are we going to close this gap?
In this month’s newsletter, Shane Tomlinson examines the shifting geopolitics of climate change, unpacking how domestic dynamics in the EU, US and China may have chilled enthusiasm, yet there remains significant potential ahead of COP26 next year. Then Kate Levick explains how looking beyond the falling costs of technology, toward new financial rules and norms could be a potential game-changer. Next Larissa Gross and Pedro Guertler explore how climate-friendly cooling is the new hot topic, with crucial work lead by the new Cool Coalition. Finally, Chris Littlecott sheds light on the Secretary-General’s call to curtail coal use and stop the construction of new coal plants by 2020.
The political economy argument for phasing out coal and gas to invest in greener development is growing steadily. Further announcements from investors and insurers that they are withdrawing from fossil fuel assets are anticipated for next week, adding to the drumbeat. That reality comes into sharper focus with talk of using trade deals and border adjustments to accelerate the zero carbon transition. Banks are stress testing their exposure to see who will be left holding the bag, while the IMF signals that it likely will not include coal loans from China in future stabilisation packages. It is these signals with real economy reforms and national security concerns that will reshape geopolitics and the space for action at global summits.
Sooner or later the calls for ambition from the streets and in boardrooms, in City Halls, trading floors and shop floors will eventually change perceptions of national interest and unlock greater climate ambition. If Net Zero is not the new normal by Monday, it soon will be.
Thanks for reading,
Programme Director; Climate Diplomacy, Risk and Security