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Inside COP26: Chaos, optimism, progress"

Listen: Inside COP26: Chaos, optimism, progress"


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About this Episode

There have been a lot of headlines coming out of COP26, the big United Nations climate conference that took place in Glasgow the first two weeks of November. In this episode of ESG Insider, we bring you inside the event through interviews with COP attendees.

We hear about the mood on the ground: chaotic, but with an overriding sense of optimism that the world can make progress toward the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C relative to preindustrial levels.

“For the first time, that target seemed to be in reach,” says Mike Wilkins, Head of Sustainable Finance Research at S&P Global Ratings and a member of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, who has attended many previous iterations of COP.

Part of that sense of progress came from the growing presence of the financial sector at COP.

“The finance sector was really clearly present and active, and communicating the need for financial institutions to take account of climate change. And that was a new part of the dynamic this year,” says Divya Mankikar, Global Head of ESG Market Engagement at S&P Global Sustainable1.

We saw many private sector pledges during COP26, including an announcement from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ, that financial institutions representing $130 trillion of assets have committed to Paris Agreement goals. We should celebrate that progress, says James Vaccaro, Executive Director of the Climate Safe Lending Network, a group with the goal of bringing international bank lending in line with the Paris Agreement.

“A few years ago, if anyone was really talking seriously about large global banks making net zero carbon commitments … it would have been seen as quite fringe or radical,” James tells us.

But he says there is more work to do. “Once you do have people in the tent … you want to move very quickly from a situation of normalized best practice into raising the bar for everyone.”

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