Climate Finance | November 1, 2021

Finance takes center stage at global climate summit

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 1 – After a year’s delay, the COP26 kicked off in Glasgow amid protests, stormy weather and diminished expectations.

The U.S. is re-engaged on climate action, but has yet to pass key legislation to fund climate action. The leaders of China, Brazil and Russia are skipping face-to-face meetings. And G20 leaders produced a watered down climate statement at their meeting in Rome.

Expectations for the 26th “Conference of the Parties” may be low, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. The world is on a trajectory to warm 2.7 degrees Celsius, almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the century – far above the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold scientists say is necessary to avoid a catastrophic cascade. Emissions must be halved by 2030 to keep warming in check.

U.S. climate czar John Kerry called COP26 “the last best chance” to avoid climate catastrophe.  

Focus on finance

Over the next 10 days, global leaders will hammer out rules for global carbon markets and funding for developing markets to combat and adapt to climate change. Flashpoints include phasing out the use of (and subsidies for) coal and other fossil fuels.

With governments bogged down by domestic concerns, including pandemic-fueled energy shortages, attention has turned to the private sector. More than $100 trillion in private finance is needed to reach net zero by 2050, according to U.N. climate finance envoy Mark Carney, who is among those calling on public finance institutions to absorb more risk to attract private capital.

Impact Alpha’s Call. No. 33 last week explored how catalytic capital can fill climate finance gaps. “The world is watching,” Carney told The Wall Street Journal. “I am going to be judged. Everyone is going to be judged.” 

Tune in

COP26 runs through Nov. 12. Negotiations take place behind closed doors. But opening ceremony speeches and a program of public events in COP26’s Green Zone will be streamed live on YouTube.

The parallel Green Horizon Summit, organized by the City of London and the Green Finance Institute, will emphasize the role of private finance.