How Will COP26 Decisions Affect Investors and Enterprise/Venture Owners
1. Increasing financial flows towards net-zero commitments: On the finance day, COP26 saw the launch of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ), with 450 firms in 45 countries committing $130tn towards the net-zero transition. This workstream will support a significant increase in the flow of private capital to emerging markets and developing countries (EM&DCs) for their transition needs through private sector investments and public-private collaboration. In essence, this means that these GFANZ commitments can deliver the estimated $100 trillion of finance needed for net zero over the next three decades. Thus, showing the increasing trend of mobility of investors, firms, and their private capital towards net-zero solutions, which is a great insight. Also, the International Monetary Fund announced in week two that its recent $650bn allocation of "special drawing rights" (SDR) – an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement the official reserves of member countries – would include a Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) of up to $50bn, thus showing further willingness for fund allocation for sustainability.
2. Business growth opportunities: Achieving NetZero is essentially about economic transformation, not just a climate agenda. To achieve this ambitious target, countries need to push some critical reforms on their energy supply, including reforming the electricity pricing markets, distribution companies, and just transition. Several Energy transition goals are for the 2030 horizon, mainly focusing on pushing renewable energy into the grid. So the near-term opportunities lie clearly in the renewable space, with solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing and deployment. The early movers and proactive businesses will be the ones that will gain from this transition. The short-term (2030) and the long-term (2050-2070) goals are a package that gives a great sense of certainty to the investors and businesses, who should act now to seize the opportunities in this long-term transition process.
3. Enterprises will need to follow emission standards: Globally, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is now tasked with coming up with global reporting standards with a focus on carbon emissions. Net zero is the next industrial revolution. If companies already have a credible, quantified plan for their emissions reductions, then good; else, should begin to consider one soon.
4. Non-Party Stakeholder (NPS) involvement campaigns and commitments marked a new era with the Marrakech Partnership: Over 100 SME construction companies across ten countries joined Race to Zero (the UN-backed, global campaign to rally leadership and support from all non-state actors for a zero-carbon recovery). For real estate assets under management, globally, $1.16 trillion of property assets under management now have a net-zero carbon commitment. This means that these real estate asset management companies will need to bring their property portfolio to net-zero carbon across all scopes of emissions that relate to the whole life of carbon.
5. Unprecedented decarbonization of elements involved in shipping business: Over 200 firms from across the shipping value chain commit to scaling and commercializing zero-emission shipping vessels and fuels by 2030 and call on governments to get the pertinent regulations and infrastructure in place to enable a just transition by 2050. Nine big-name brands, including Amazon, IKEA, Michelin, Unilever, and Patagonia, announced that they will shift 100% of their ocean freight to vessels powered by zero-carbon fuel by 2040. Nineteen countries signed the Clydebank declaration to support the establishment of zero-emission shipping routes, collectively aiming to create at least six zero-emissions maritime corridors by the middle of this decade while aspiring to see many more in operation by 2030. All of these portray the new opened up opportunities for zero-carbon fueled vessels and ships.
6. The official launch of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) by The Rockefeller Foundation, IKEA Foundation, and Bezos Earth Fund signaled the importance of much-needed philanthropic capital to catalyze the much greater levels of investment needed for countries to achieve their energy access and net-zero ambitions. The GEAPP is a platform built on partnerships, and new strategic alliances were entered into during the COP. These included the US Government's Power Africa initiative, which would bring together nearly two dozen public and private sector partners to seize the opportunity to realize universal, clean energy generation and access for Sub-Saharan Africa by accelerating new distributed renewable energy and grid-based solutions. These actions added more power to national declarations and partnerships such as India and UK's One Sun, One World, One Grid initiative, which aimed for similar objectives - thus, again indicating growing importance and openings for high volume investment and focus on grid connections for energy access.
7. Ending Coal exploration took real momentum: 28 new members joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance – the world's largest alliance on phasing out coal – bringing the number to more than 160 countries, sub-national governments, and businesses. Banks and financial institutions made commitments to end the funding of unabated coal. These complement announcements made earlier in the year by China, Japan, and South Korea to stop overseas coal financing. Additionally, a group of 25 countries signed a UK-led joint statement committing to ending international public funding for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, prioritizing support for clean energy instead. This functionally ends almost all concessional or public financing of global coal power. The Climate Investment Fund and Asian Development Bank also announced partnerships supporting accelerated transitions away from coal power. All these indicate the international pressure building up on coal phase-out/down and thus further rise in renewable energy enterprises.
Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of Illuminem.
About the author
Vedant Kulkarni is the UNFCCC representative for India at COP26 and has a passion for climate change adaptation and mitigation.