As governments across the world attempt to implement the newest pledges, we spoke to a UK investor and philanthropist trying to accelerate progress through the private sector
In the eleventh hour, a deal at last November's COP26 climate summit in Scotland was finally brokered. All 197 parties agreed to the newly dubbed 'Glasgow Climate Pact', following a last-minute plea from the European Commission's vice president, Frans Timmermans, for his fellow delegates" to just think about one person in your life... that will still be around in 2030, and think about how that person will live if we do not stick to the 1.5C here today."
From the US perspective, President Biden vowed to 'lead by example, urging other world leaders to embark upon a shift to clean energy. To support this transition, Biden promised that the US would provide $3 billion every year, by 2024, to help the world adapt to climate change.
There were several other notable achievements from COP26.
The requirement to strengthen emissions targets for 2030 were brought forward to next year, rather than in 2025 as per the five year schedule set out by the Paris agreement. The need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by a substantial 45% by 2030 was formally recognized. And rules to create a framework for a global carbon market were approved.
In the weeks since governments across the world have come under scrutiny over the implementation of these green policies.
"The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally," said John Gummer, the chair of the UK's independent Climate Change Committee (CCC). "At home, we need to walk the talk and urgently deliver actions in the net zero strategy."
The summit's host nation has one of the most ambitious 2030 emissions targets in the world. According to some UK government official advisers, however, there is still long way to go before the policies are in place to deliver it.
In particular, the government has come under fire for continuing to subsidize fossil fuels by GBP12.5bn a year and failing to issue a robust plan to cut emissions from farming. The CCC has also previously warned that the UK government has "nothing to say" on reducing meat and dairy consumption or limiting demand for flying.
The implications of this are momentous.
Scientists predict that failing to implement stringent policies to cut emissions will mean the earth's temperature will rise by at least 3C above pre-industrial levels this century. Deadly heatwaves, mass wildfires, and destructive downpours will become more frequent, while new research predicts that rain will replace snow as the Arctic's most common precipitation, leading to sea level rise and species decline.
The summit also showcased how the private sector is throwing down the gauntlet. Nick Maughan, a conservationist whose impact investment vehicleMaughan Capital funds companies dedicated to reversing the effects of global heating, recently announced an investment in climate Solutions Exchange Ltd. (CSX), whose CEO Andy Howard was in Glasgow to present the company's plans to media and potential investors.
CSX uses a combination of industry-first drones, satellites, ground-truthing, detailed carbon analysis, and modeling to accurately measure the amount of carbon sequestered in any given land area. Combining this technology with extensive knowledge of land management, effective sequestration methods, and reforestation, CSX works to deliver as detailed and complete a measure of sequestration as possible.
As the first company to make this technology accessible, CSX maintains that precise and affordable measurement will catalyze increased corporate climate action, while also affording landowners the opportunity to harness their natural capital and utilize their property for the benefit of the climate.
'I'm delighted to be supporting this initiative, which is set to transform the carbon market,' says Maughan. 'CSX has identified an unparalleled opportunity to help accelerate the transition towards a green economy, offering landowners a fair return on environmental management, while ensuring businesses are given a verifiable carbon offset.'
Indeed, most climate scientists agree it is now too late to prevent the world reaching 1.5C by focusing solely on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To mitigate the risk of a climate catastrophe, we will therefore need to invest in creative solutions in addition to decarbonizing our economies
Another way of sequestering carbon isby protecting and restoring the earth's natural forests and wildlife. At present, trees and other plants remove roughly 11bn tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, equivalent to 27% of what human industry and agriculture emit. Investing in conservation projects will therefore serve as a simple but highly effective means of drawing carbon from the atmosphere.
Seeking to advance progressive conservation efforts worldwide, Maughan's philanthropic enterprise -The Nick Maughan Foundation or 'NMF'- is a major donor to Tusk Trust, a UK charity working to preserve Africa's rich natural heritage.NMF's support helps Tusk further its mission to combat poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict - all of which works to protect endangered species while also conserving healthy ecosystems that act as gigantic carbon sinks.
As part of this work, NMF sponsored the 2021 Tusk Lion Trail - an international street art exhibition aiming to raise awareness of the magnificence of lions and the threats facing them today. Sponsoring life-sized lion sculptures painted by the likes of comedy legend John Cleese and Rolling Stones musician Ronnie Wood, the global art installation raised GBP1.1m for conservation projects.
Most recently, NMF sponsored the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, which gives international recognition to an individual working in the field to protect Africa's wildlife. This year's winner was Suleiman Saidu, a wildlife ranger working with local communities to map and combat elephant poaching networks in Nigeria. The award hopes to inspire the environmental leaders of tomorrow by recognizing the unsung conservation heroes of today.
As governments come under increasing pressure to deliver on the promises made at COP26, it is clear the success of this climate conference can only be measured by the actions that follow in the next year and beyond.
With governments scrambling to implement the necessary policies to achieve their climate targets, private investors and philanthropists are preparing to play a much larger role in tackling the climate crisis.