COP27 Action Tracker: With a new UK Prime Minister, is there any hope yet for a smooth COP presidency handover?

edie's COP Action Tracker is returning for COP27

Taking place in Sharm-El-Sheikh this November, COP27 is a major event in the diary for anyone in the sustainability space.

At COP26 in Glasgow last year, nations collectively agreed to update their Paris Agreement commitments within 12 months and signed a new text, the Glasgow Climate Pact – the first from any COP to explicitly mention fossil fuels.

Much has changed since then.

edie has, therefore, launched this COP27 Action Tracker – a regular round-up of the policy and business preparations being made here in the UK and across the world. Read on for our third edition, covering the latest from Egypt, the UK and elsewhere.

The numbers

  • 90% of global GDP now covered by net-zero commitments
  • 30 nations have submitted Paris Agreement NDCs
  • 3,904 companies signed up to implementing science-based emissions targets
  • 1,859 companies with verified science-based emissions targets

The headlines              

UK updates

With less than two weeks until the UK hands the COP Presidency to Egypt, we have a new incoming Prime Minister – the third Prime Minister to manage Alok Sharma as COP26 President within the UK’s Cabinet Office.

Liz Truss resigned as PM last week, opening the race for her replacement. After Boris Johnson dropped out during the weekend and Penny Mordaunt failed to meet the requirement of support of 100 MPs, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak was appointed Conservative Party leader on Monday afternoon (24 October).

Given that the Conservative Party’s division over Truss’s approach to fracking ultimately played a major role in her downfall, all eyes are on Sunak to see how he updates the UK’s climate approach. Like Truss, Sunak stated this season that he supports expanding North Sea fossil fuel extraction and permitting fracking in communities that support it. He was less vocally anti-solar and more vocally pro-wind and pro-energy efficiency. You can read edie’s summary of his green policy record here. We will cover his cabinet reshuffle in due course.

The change in leader may also impact whether King Charles attends. He had previously stated that he will not attend the conference, after Truss advised him in this manner.

In other news, Sharma is due to make what may well be his last public speech before standing down at COP President on Tuesday (25 October). MPs from multiple select committees will question him at 3pm, covering topics including NDCs, international finance and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. The session is being spearheaded by the BEIS Select Committee and can be watched on Parliament Live TV.

Someone who has already been grilled this week by MPs is Mark Carney. Speaking with the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on Monday (24 October), Carney advocated for a price on carbon and for this COP to be used to clarify rules on divestment, investment and carbon markets. Precious little time was spent, however, on updating MPs on the progress of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). The $130trn initiative has been in the news for the wrong reasons this season, reportedly arguing that Race to Zero requirements are too strict and losing the support of two pension funds on the grounds of complex reporting requirements.  Carney did imply that new advice for the GFNANZ members, including on investing and divesting in the energy sector, is in the pipeline.

Global updates

Starting with hosts Egypt, the Guardian is reporting that civil society organisations, businesses and governments may need to cancel or scale back events planned for November 6, 7 and 8. Hosts have been told that only events involving heads of state – to whom the first two full days are dedicated – will be allowed to go ahead on November 7.

This has raised concerns about potentially restricting debate and narrowing down the scope of which organisations and topics are seen as important to the hosts. These concerns were already mounting, with young climate activists reporting issues accessing the accreditation, accommodation and travel options needed to attend. Egypt is also facing intense scrutiny over its human rights policies in The Guardian and other titles.

Meanwhile, Egypt has hosted a workshop with representatives of previous iterations of COP to firm up objectives and get advice on delivering strong negotiations. Representatives attended from geographies including the UK, EU, Poland and Marrakesh.

In other news:

  • The G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, which was originally set to begin this weekend, will now take place during the second week of COP.
  • France has joined Poland, Spain and the Netherlands in confirming its intent to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty. Emmanuel Macron said membership of the Treaty was not compatible with France’s long-term climate goals and that this may still be the case after a proposed update.
  • The leaders of EU member states have backed Commission plans for a “temporary, dynamic” price coridoor on gas transactions to ease cost burdens.
  • Australia has signed the Global Methane Pledge, joining dozens of other nations in targeting a 30% reduction by 2030.
  • The Loss and Damage Coalition have published a new briefing entitled ‘the cost of delay’. The document is endorsed by the Elders, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and 24 NGOs. It details 31 years of calls for a dedicated loss and damage finance mechanism, attempting to quantify the missed opportunities to act.
  • Siemens Energy and SODIC have been announced as supporting sponsors of COP27 and GM and Al Mansour have been announced as the principal partners from the transport sector. Together, these latter two firms will provide 150 electric vehicles (EVs) for COP attendees.
  • Lewis Pugh (pictured above) is expected to complete his Red Sea swimming challenge on Wednesday (26 October). Pugh, a UN Ambassador for Oceans, is set to be the first person to complete the 100-mile route.

Words of wisdom

“At COP27 leaders must co-operate to secure a dedicated finance solution for loss and damage, any further delay on this is unacceptable.”

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and chair of The Elders

© Faversham House Ltd 2023 edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie