Essay | Looking toward clean energy on the road to COP26

Essay | Looking toward clean energy on the road to COP26

(Narupon Promvichai/Pixabay)

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Climate, Energy

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant uncertainty around the globe, the 2021 COP 26 meeting will proceed as planned from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. Despite the challenging circumstances, continuing these international climate change negotiations remains essential to move the planet forward, and I am looking forward to taking part alongside corporate leaders from American businesses. 

This COP meeting will be an important one – under the Paris Agreement, 2020 was designed to be a watershed year, and this will be the first time principals have gathered since it ended. Parties should have updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020, setting more aggressive targets that home in on what can be accomplished by 2030. By 2020, wealthy nations should have mobilized to deliver the target of $100 billion per year in climate finance. Not all of these goals have been fully accomplished, and there will be much to expect from the wealthiest nations party to the negotiations in Glasgow. 

The format of the COP meeting will be much different from usual, with only a fraction of the usual credentialed participants able to attend. It remains to be seen how this, alongside quarantine and vaccination mandates, may create disproportionate barriers for parties from higher-risk countries and ultimately affect the negotiations themselves. Most notably, under the Paris Agreement, a mechanism still needs to be developed to fund responses when vulnerable countries experience loss and damage, and has been the subject of much concern. Earning agreement from these Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is critical to the collective success of the international framework, and will be another key issue to look out for in Scotland, especially under the strange circumstances.

And, as always, there is much more to look out for beyond just the State-level negotiations. From an industry perspective, ways to accelerate a worldwide clean energy transition will continue to be at the front of minds – from renewable energy, to electric vehicles, to energy efficiency. Getting together leaders from the world’s most influential companies, governments, and third parties sets the table for ambitious deal-striking and target-setting, especially around 2030 targets. This is how we move the planet forward.


About the author:

Beth A. Viola, who is attending COP26, is senior policy advisor with Holland & Knight and co-chairs the firm’s Energy & Clean Technology Team. The primary focus of her practice is working with clean energy technology companies to create sound public policy drivers for their businesses. She works with business leaders and non-profits to advance effective climate change strategies that result in economic and environmental benefits.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Viola served as a senior advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She served as the primary White House liaison on issues of climate change, natural resources and smart growth to elected officials, industry, environmental, religious and labor leaders as well as the media.

Editor’s note: Please check back every day, leading up to the beginning of COP26 on Oct. 31, for new pieces from climate leaders in the Planet Forward network.

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