A photograph of HE Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore at the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme's Gender and Climate webinar

04.11.2020

Applying a gender lens to Climate Finance Thinking: an opportunity

10 minute read

Opening speech by HE Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore at the ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme’s Gender and Climate webinar.

Thank you, Gilles, for your kind words. I’m delighted to be here for this webinar.

27 years into my foreign policy career, one of the issues I’ve seen the most change on has been the understanding that to make genuine and sustained progress on the most difficult issues facing humanity – health, conflict and climate – decision makers need to take gender into account.

And if you were looking for a challenging issue, they don’t come bigger than the climate change crisis, which threatens our nature, our economies, our security and our societies. Even in a year when the pandemic is reminding us of our human frailty, climate change remains a yet bigger challenge.

So, I jumped at the chance to participate in the event today, which is about bringing gender and climate together when we think about a key aspect of how we run our countries: financial decision making.

For those who aren’t already familiar with our work, this webinar is part of the UK’s ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme. The programme is designed to support ASEAN as it seeks to harness the benefits of deploying low carbon energy by leveraging on the UK’s extensive expertise and learnings, both in green finance and in energy efficiency.

I’d like to thank Gilles Pascual, Ernst & Young’s Programme Director, and Smita Biswas who leads the programme’s Gender & Inclusion work, for bringing us together.

This event today should allow us to share our commitment to both gender and climate change at the heart of everything we do. Far from compromising or confusing our other objectives, we know that we can only succeed by bringing all voices to the table to build a more sustainable future.

Today we will explore how we can bring a gender lens to investments that target the climate crisis and a climate lens to gender-smart investments. I know many of you will be familiar with applying a climate lens to your businesses and investments – it forms a central pillar of ESG reporting. And gender equality is receiving a lot of attention as a result of corporate diversity disclosures, but gender lens investing is a newer piece of the landscape.

Gender lens investing means incorporating gender considerations into financial analysis to achieve better financial and social outcomes. It has the potential to deliver for business, women and the world, including by advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

So why is the gender and climate nexus important?

I want to first talk briefly about the practical and developmental reasons to bring climate and gender together. There is a substantial and ever-growing body of evidence that proves women have a huge role to play in delivering climate change mitigation and adaptation. But they remain under-represented, both in key decision-making positions and as users of capital.

Moreover, those hit hardest by the climate crisis will be those who are already the most disadvantaged. Women and girls will therefore be worst hit because of existing pervasive social, cultural and economic disadvantages. Merging the gender and climate investment agendas has the power to improve our response to climate change and deliver social justice at the same time.

In the past, climate change and gender equality have sometimes been seen as something for governments and NGOs to worry about. But it is fast becoming clear it is something everyone needs to worry about.

At the macro level, McKinsey estimate that up to US$28 trillion (or 26%) could be added to the global GDP in 2025 by closing the representation gap between men and women in the economy. As COVID-19 ravages the global economy, there has never been a more pressing need for easy wins.

Businesses that ignore this are being left behind.

Companies with high gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians. Companies with at least 30% women executives outperform those with lower women representation. Venture and private equity funds with gender balanced teams have 20% higher returns than their peers.

Companies without strong gender values are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the best talent from an increasingly values-driven workforce. There are reputational risks and potentially even regulatory risks to ignoring the gender dimension to business operations. Even Governments fall foul of this, with Australia’s ‘gender neutral’ COVID-19 recovery being publicly criticised for largely supporting jobs in construction and infrastructure – typically, heavily male-dominated industries.

So, with an insight into the benefits of getting this right and the risks of ignoring it, let’s turn to what we can do by considering what it means to apply a gender and climate lens to investment, particularly as we look to recovery.

Incorporating gender and climate analysis into the practice of investing includes how value is assigned, how relationships are structured and how processes work.

If you’re investing in climate businesses, you can bring gender into your due diligence process by asking businesses where the women are and why; how their business model impacts women; or how the products and services they offer impact the lives of women and girls.

From a social and environmental impact frame, you can also ask: how women and girls are currently being left out of climate related investments; how they are affected by climate impacts; how they are benefiting or being negatively impacted by climate finance initiatives. COVID-19 presents a serious challenge to those of us fighting for a more sustainable and equal future. It has had both economic and social impacts that gender and climate investment look to tackle. The maelstrom of social and economic challenges arising from the global health and economic crises calls for increased urgency and intention to address the specific challenges women face.

The investment community should look to build more sustainable, diverse and impactful portfolios. This pandemic raises the importance of taking a long-term approach to our investment strategies – one that looks at gender and climate in concert. Now more than ever we need to frame women equally as leaders, innovators, employees, value chain members and consumers.

I must thank Suzanne Biegel, co-founder of the GenderSmart initiative and Wolfgang Hafenmayer, founder of Sagana, who are key Thought Leaders in this field and are supporting today’s webinar.

I hope the discussion today will be fruitful and it marks an important step in developing long term partnerships in this area between the UK and Southeast Asian countries. I will also be staying with you for the first half of the session to learn.

I strongly encourage everyone to continue these conversations after this event, and together we can construct an economic recovery from COVID-19, which places Climate and Gender at its core, delivering a sustainable, resilient future that delivers for women, society and the planet.

Thank you.

An image of a globe depicting our planet, and the following text next to it: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 In Partnership with Italy

04.11.2020

Joint statement on US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

2 minute read

The UNFCCC and the Governments of the UK, Chile, France and Italy have issued a joint statement on the US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

There is no greater responsibility than protecting our planet and people from the threat of climate change. The science is clear that we must urgently scale up action and work together to reduce the impacts of global warming and to ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all. The Paris Agreement provides the right framework to achieve this. Our efforts must include support for those countries and communities at the frontline of climate change. It is vital that we take renewed action to hold the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and take best efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

On 12 December we will be celebrating the five year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. We must ensure that it is implemented in full. We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today. As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

An image of a globe depicting our planet, and the following text next to it: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 In Partnership with Italy

29.05.2020

New dates agreed for COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference

5 minute read

The COP26 UN climate conference will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners, agreed today new dates for the COP26 UN climate conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The agreement followed consultation with UNFCCC members, delivery partners and the international climate community. The conference was originally set to take place in November 2020, but had been postponed due to COVID-19.

In the run up to November 2021, the UK as hosts will continue to work with all involved to increase climate action, build resilience and lower emissions. The new date will also allow the UK and our Italian partners to harness our incoming G7 and G20 presidencies in driving climate ambition.

The decision on the new date comes as the UK Government announces that over 25 experts in multiple global sectors will be advising the COP26 Presidency.

The Friends of COP bring expertise from countries across six continents, including France, Barbados, Chad, Australia, India and Peru. They will advise the UK Government and inspire action from their sectors ahead of the conference.

The Friends of COP include Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the Coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change. With the new dates for COP26 now agreed we are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean resilient recovery.

Everyone will need to raise their ambitions to tackle climate change and the expertise of the Friends of COP will be important in helping boost climate action across the globe.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President and Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I am glad that consultations with Parties have made it possible to collectively and quickly agree new dates for COP26. The new dates mean the conference will be at a time when the Covid-19 tragedy will be behind us and we will be able to ensure inclusiveness, for us a fundamental prerequisite for an ambitious COP26 based on global commitment to action.

Between now and November 2021 we will take advantage of every international opportunity to increase ambition and mobilization, also harnessing the G20 under the Italian Presidency and the G7 under the British Presidency.

 Sergio Costa, Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection

It is very important that we continue to push for climate action, and having quickly agreed on new dates for COP26 is a sign of this commitment. While the subsidiary body sessions (SB52) were also postponed 4-12 October 2020, the work of the Parties and stakeholders will continue through virtual meetings such as the upcoming ‘June Momentum’.

The urgency with which governments and the way in which countries promote recovery from the post-COVID-19 crisis will directly affect the other serious global crisis we are experiencing: global warming and climate change crisis. That is why we will continue to strongly mobilize all actors. We need more ambition to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to cooperate with each other.

Carolina Schmidt Zaldívar, COP25 President and Minister of Environment of Chile

Our efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive. If done right, the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path.

We honour those who we have lost by working with renewed commitment and continuing to demonstrate leadership and determination in addressing climate change, and building a safe, clean, just and resilient world.

Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary

Petersberg climate dialogue (roman numerals) XI. April 27 to 28, 2020

04.05.2020

Petersberg Climate Dialogue summary video

2 minute read

Over 30 climate ministers and high-level representatives met via video call for day two of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue on 28 April 2020.

Petersberg Climate Dialogue summary

On 28 April 2019, over 30 climate ministers and high-level representatives met via video call for day two of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

The eleventh Petersberg Climate Dialogue was co-hosted by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and designated COP26 President, Alok Sharma, and the German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Svenja Schulze.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the PCD was convened as a series of video conferences on 27 and 28 April 2020. It normally takes place in Germany each year.

An image of the UK COP26 website logo with a picture of a globe and the following text: UN Climate Change Conference UK, which has been postponed until 2021

02.04.2020

COP26 postponement

5 minute read

The COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to COVID-19.

The COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to COVID-19.

This decision has been taken by representatives of the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners.

Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties.

In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible.

Rescheduling will ensure all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place. We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19. That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26.

We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.

Alok Sharma, COP26 President-Designate and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.

Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.

In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary

Whilst we have decided to postpone COP26, including the Pre-COP and ‘Youth for the Climate’ event, we remain fully committed to meeting the challenge of climate change.

Tackling climate change requires strong, global and ambitious action. Participation from the younger generations is imperative, and we are determined to host the ‘Youth for the Climate’ event, together with the Pre-COP and outreach events.

We will continue to work with our British partners to deliver a successful COP26.

Sergio Costa, Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection

The decision of the Bureau on the postponement of COP26 is unfortunately a needed measure to protect all delegates and observers.

Our determination is to make sure that the momentum for climate ambition will continue, particularly for the preparation and submissions of new NDCs this year.

Carolina Schmidt, COP25 President, Minister

Photograph of the Right Honourable Alok Sharma at the COP26 Briefing to all UN Member States at the United Nations, New York

09.03.2020

COP26 President UN Address

5 minute read

The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP’s first speech as COP26 President Designate at the UN with the Secretary-General, Italian Permanent Representation and British Ambassador to the United States

Secretary-General, excellences, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be here at the United Nations for my first international engagement as COP26 President.

I would like to thank the Secretary-General for the great leadership he has shown in tackling climate change.

I look forward to working with him and the wider UN team in the lead up to COP26.

In my first three weeks as COP26 President I have met with the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

Other former COP Presidents, such as Laurent Fabius.

Civil society organisations.

Corporate leaders and finance executives.

Encouragingly, there has been a strong level of agreement that we must act now to tackle climate change.

Whilst in New York this has been further reinforced through my meetings with the permanent representatives of the Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and others who are on the frontline of climate impacts.

Failure to act, will cause irreversible consequences.

As temperatures continue to rise, droughts and heatwaves will become more common.

The risk of crops failing will increase.

Sea levels will rise by anywhere between 1 to 3 feet by the end of this century.

Hurricanes will become stronger and more intense.

These events will put human life at risk.

Lead to population displacement.

It will devastate nature and biodiversity.

And exact a catastrophic economic cost

I do not need to tell many of you in this room what the impact to human life will be, because many of your countries are already living with the realities of climate change.

Over the past 25 years an estimated 4.5 billion people have been affected by disasters, 90% of which have been caused by weather and climate related events.

The UK first responders to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas last year described the scenes on the ground as apocalyptic.

Roofs ripped from buildings, homes underwater, families left devastated by the loss of their loved ones.

Sadly, this is a pattern we have seen over some time, and one which will accelerate unless we take action.

As the representative of one of the Small Island Developing States I met yesterday said to me,

“Tackling climate change is an existential issue for us, if we do not get it right, we will no longer have a place to call home.”

Whether we live in the South or the North, the East or the West, we share one life-giving but fragile planet. And all our futures are intrinsically linked.

COP26 can be a moment where the world comes together to ramp up momentum towards a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy.

Sending out a message of ambition and hope, that decarbonisation is the future, with huge opportunities for those who are willing to act now.

And, of course, this transition must be fair and inclusive, leaving no-one behind.

We all know that the current commitments made under the Paris Agreement fall far short of what is required.

As the Secretary-General has said we must go further to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, whilst pursuing efforts to achieve 1.5 degrees.

So, we want all countries to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions, committing to further cuts in carbon emissions by 2030.

With all nations committing to reaching net zero emissions as soon as possible.

I want to re-emphasise, this shift must be fair.

The people most affected by climate change are those who have contributed the least and have the fewest resources to adapt.

Developed countries must honour their commitments. Including meeting the 100-billion-dollar goal for climate finance.

At COP26, the world must seek to agree a package which takes forward the Paris Agreement and powers the UN climate process onwards.

We will seek to progress all issues mandated for discussion and I have already heard from many of the countries I have spoken to about their priorities for the negotiations.

Ahead of the Summit, the UK with our partner Italy, will work not just with nations, but also cities, regions, companies, the Multilateral Development Banks, the Development Finance Institutions.

And, very importantly, civil society in all its various forms.

Yesterday I hosted a roundtable with a range of organisations and activists, including representatives from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the UN Foundation and Earth Rising founder Alexandria Villaseño.

By uniting around specific issues, we can spur innovation, scale up solutions and bring down costs.

And there are some areas which need particular action in 2020.

First, adaptation and resilience. Helping people, economies and the environment adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

This was a personal priority for me when I was International Development Secretary.

Working with Egypt and friends from Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Malawi and St Lucia here at the UN, we launched a Call for Action in this area where 118 nations and over 80 organisations committed to raising their ambition.

I met with permanent representatives, the UN and NGOs this morning to discuss how we can translate these political commitments into on-the-ground action.

We know it will be important to consider opportunities to improve responses to climate impacts and access to adaptation finance.

Second, nature. Safeguarding ecosystems, protecting natural habitats and keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

A million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history.

We cannot meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement or adapt the effects of climate change without restoring, protecting and enhancing nature.

We have heard from you, I have heard from you, that there are opportunities to look at environmental regulation around supply chains and channel finance to invest in nature.

The UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, the 15th Conference on Biological Diversity hosted by China, and of course COP26, offer an opportunity to bend the curve of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

And we will work with China, the United Nations and others to make sure that these global summits complement and support each other.

Third, energy transition. Seizing the massive opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage.

In the last few years, we have seen how alliances like ‘Powering Past Coal’ can drive momentum.

In the UK the proportion of energy generated from coal has fallen from 40% in 2012 to 5% in 2018.

We all need to invest in the innovation which will help us accelerate the transition to clean energy.

But we also need to help empower developing countries to leapfrog the polluting options of the past and embrace the clean energy of the future.

In my previous role as International Development Secretary, I saw fantastic examples of companies already doing this.

A Uk business called Azuri Technologies is providing solar energy systems to off-grid homes across Africa.

This is a great example of existing opportunities that we need to scale up.

Fourth, is accelerating the move to zero-carbon road transport. By 2040, over half of new car sales worldwide are projected to be electric.

Yet to meet the Paris goals, this needs to happen faster.

By working together, countries and industry can bring forward the date when zero-emissions vehicles will not only be cleaner, but also cheaper, than petrol and diesel.

This will deliver benefits for the climate, and will help tackle air pollution which currently contributes to the death of an estimated 7 million people a year.

And let me be clear, this is not about the UK pointing the finger, we know we also need to do more ourselves.

That is why the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last month that we would bring forward a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars from 2040 to 2035.

And this week as Business Secretary I announced a multi-million pound investment to design, test and manufacture electric machines in some of the UK’s most polluting industries.

And lastly, we need to unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero carbon economy.

From solar panels, to electric vehicles and tree planting, it is often finance that turns good intentions into action.

The OECD estimates that we will need nearly 7 trillion dollars a year up to 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Much of this funding needs will also need to come from the private sector.

Whilst at the Department for International Development I set up the UK’s International Development Infrastructure Commission to help corral private sector money, alongside sovereign development funds, into sustainable infrastructure projects.

Following the Commission’s recommendations, the UK is now partnering with Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana, to design a new facility to plan, deliver and support funding to a range of infrastructure projects.

Sustainability will be central to these projects, focusing on investments with low carbon emissions and infrastructure that will be resilient to a changing climate.

As COP26 President, I will continue our efforts to mobilise finance for developing countries.

Including asking others to make ambitious future international climate finance commitments.

As the UK has done by doubling our contribution to £11.6 billion over the period from 2021 to 2025.

The Multilateral Development Banks are the largest vehicle for channelling climate finance to developing countries.

They will have a critical role to play, along with the development finance institutions, in the build up to COP26.

But to move from billions to trillions, we will need all finance to align with the Paris Agreement.

Making the spirit of Paris felt in London, New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Shanghai and every other financial centre.

Last week, I joined the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, at the launch of the COP 26 Finance Action Plan.

As Governor Carney noted, private finance is now increasingly focused on the opportunities and risks in the transition to a decarbonised economy.

Every major systemic bank, the world’s largest insurers, its biggest pension funds and top asset managers are backing the Taskforce for Climate related Financial Disclosures.

And this has been highlighted to me during the meetings I have had with leading financial organisations.

Achieving net zero will require a whole economy transition.

We have the opportunity to turn climate change into a growth opportunity for the global economy.

In the UK, we have grown our economy by 75% since 1990 whilst cutting emissions by 43% showing, green growth is absolutely possible.

While the list of initiatives I have outlined is not exhaustive, it gives an idea of the scale of the challenge before us. A challenge where we can only succeed together.

As COP26 President I see my role as the custodian of a process. The UK and Italy will be co-hosting the summit, but success at this event will belong to the whole world.

Alongside my Italian counterpart, we will work with you all to develop more ambitious plans on mitigation, adaptation and finance.

Creating a drumbeat of action in the calendar of international events leading up to COP26.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with one of my childhood heroes: the broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

His message was simple. We must act now.

Ladies and gentleman, each of us can help write our planet’s future.

I have faith that working together with all of you in a collaborative manner, we will make the right choices.

We owe that to ourselves. And to future generations.

Thank you.

Photograph of the Right Honourable Alok Sharma at the launch of the COP26 Private Finance Agenda at Guildhall, London, on Thursday 27 February

28.02.2020

COP26 President Alok Sharma at launch of COP26 Private Finance Agenda

5 minute read

COP26 President Alok Sharma spoke at the launch of the COP26 Private Finance Agenda at Guildhall, London, on Thursday 27 February

Ladies and gentlemen, Sir David, Governor Carney, Tanya.

Let me start by thanking the Lord Mayor for hosting us today.

It is staggering to think that over 600 years have passed since the Guildhall’s master mason, John Croxton, started work on this incredible building.

Today, this is the only secular stone building in the City dating back from before 1666. In part, thanks to the choices Croxton made all those years ago. When the Great Fire of London ravaged the City, the Guildhall’s oak frame is said to have saved it from collapse.

And when it was bombed in World War II, the roof fell in, but his stone walls stood firm.

With COP26 this year, we want to do what John Croxton did all those centuries ago. Leave a legacy which stands the test of time, and makes life better for future generations. Building on the foundations of past conferences, especially Paris, to create a zero-carbon economy which will benefit our children and grandchildren.

COP26 will be the biggest summit the UK has ever organised. In this year, the Year of Climate Action, it will be the top international priority for this Government. And we are getting ready for it.

In my first fortnight as COP President, I have been listening to those who have done this before. Meeting people like Paris COP President Laurent Fabius, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Patricia Espinosa from the UNFCCC.

And, we are working closely with our partners in Italy. Our vision for COP26 is clear. In Glasgow, the world must ramp up momentum towards a zero-carbon economy.

Sending out a message of hope, that decarbonisation is the future. With huge opportunities for those who are prepared to act now.

And, of course, this transition must be fair and inclusive, leaving no-one behind.To achieve this, all countries must commit to significant further cuts to carbon emissions by 2030, and to reach net zero as soon as possible.

Agreeing a package that delivers the Paris Agreement and powers the UN climate process forward. And we will do that, working with all parts of the global economy and society.

But there are some areas which need particular attention in 2020. First, adaptation and resilience, helping people, economies and the environment adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

This was a personal priority for me when I was Secretary of State for International Development.

Working with Egypt, and others at the UN General Assembly, we launched a Call for Action on adaptation and resilience where 118 nations and over 80 organisations committed to raising their ambition.

The next step is to translate these political commitments into on the ground action.

Second, nature, safeguarding ecosystems, protecting natural habitats and keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. Promoting nature-based solutions.

Third, energy transition, seizing the massive opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage.Cleaning our air, and helping economies shift away from a legacy of polluting fossil generation.

Fourth, clean road transport, accelerating the move to zero-carbon road transport.

And fifth, to make this all possible, unleashing the finance which will power the shift to a zero-carbon economy. From solar panels, to electric vehicles and tree planting, it is often finance that turns good intentions into action.

All of you here are in a unique position to drive the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Helping developing countries leapfrog the polluting options of the past, to the clean, green, resilient technologies of the future.

Last month, I helped launch East Africa’s first ‘green bond’ on the Nairobi securities exchange.

Followed by its dual listing on the London Stock Exchange. The first Green Simba bond.

A bond which UK Government funding helped to develop. Raising funds to build environmentally-friendly housing for 5,000 students in Nairobi.

The OECD estimates that we will need nearly 7 trillion dollars a year up to 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement, as well the development goals.

Much of this funding needs to come from the private sector.

Whilst I was at the Department for International Development I set up the UK’s International Development Infrastructure Commission to help corral private sector money, alongside sovereign development funds, into sustainable infrastructure projects in developing countries.

Following the Commission’s recommendations, the UK is now partnering with five countries in Africa to design a new facility to plan, deliver and support funding to a range of infrastructure projects that are attractive to businesses and investors like you.

Sustainability will be central to these new infrastructure projects, focusing on investments with low carbon emissions and infrastructure that will be resilient to changing climates.

The UK and other developed countries have committed to mobilising 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, building on the 71 billion we reached in 2017.

We are firmly committed to this goal. And to meet it in a way that responds to the needs of developing countries.

And last year at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson underlined his personal commitment to tackling climate change by announcing a doubling of the UK’s international climate finance commitment to 11.6 billion pounds over the period 2021-25.

This, in turn, will mobilise further finance from public and private sources. Helping us meet and indeed move beyond the 100-billion-dollar goal, as we begin discussions on the goal that will replace it from 2025.

Today, Multilateral Development Banks are the largest vehicle for channelling climate finance to developing countries.

And donor support will remain critical as we shift to low carbon investment and protect the world’s most vulnerable.

Last October, I made the UK’s backing for the World Bank fund dependent on putting more money into developing resilience to a changing climate.

And we will continue to work with Multilateral Development Banks and Development Finance Institutions to help them deliver Paris Alignment Plans.

But to move from billions to trillions, we will need all finance to look at aligning with the Paris Agreement.

Making the spirit of Paris felt in London, New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Shanghai and every other financial centre around the world.

Encouragingly today, as the financial risks and opportunities of the low carbon transition become clear, we are seeing a major shift in private finance.

This shift is based on a simple fact.

The only economy which can avoid the worst effects of climate change, and thus continue to deliver growth, is a decarbonised economy.

I know Governor Carney will be speaking about this in just a moment.

Of course we are seeing firms moving beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and funding green projects, to integrate climate and environmental factors into decision-making across all sectors and asset classes. Focusing on impact and not just return.

We are starting to see real momentum. Campaigns like ‘Make My Money Matter’ are giving a voice to those who want to see their pensions invested in line with their values.

Last year, a survey by the Department for International Development found that the vast majority of UK savers wanted their investments to be made in a manner which considers the impact on people and planet, alongside financial performance.

As part of COP26, we will be supporting private sector coalitions to do even more, sooner, helping them look at the climate impacts of asset portfolios and loan books.

Ladies and gentlemen, I started by mentioning the origins of the Guildhall.

Centuries ago, a historian described how it grew from a “little cottage” into a “large and great house”.

And, in many ways, that is what we need for COP26.

From governments, businesses, civil society, young people and so many others, we are opening up our doors and inviting absolutely everyone in.

Each of us will write the future.

Our choices will make or break the zero-carbon economy.

Together, I know we can make the right decisions.

Thank you.

Photograph of the Right Honourable Alok Sharma

18.02.2020

Alok Sharma appointed COP26 President

5 minute read

Alok Sharma was appointed as COP26 President on Thursday 13 February 2020.

The Prime Minister has appointed Alok Sharma as the COP26 President, alongside his new position as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

As former Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, Mr Sharma’s experience in international diplomacy will be key in driving ambitious climate action from countries attending the conference in Glasgow this November.

Yesterday, Mr Sharma began his first full week in the new role with a meeting with UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, where they committed to working closely together towards a successful, globally ambitious summit later this year in Glasgow.

It is a great honour to take on the role of COP26 President. I have started working with my new team ahead of the summit in Glasgow this November, where we aim to speed up the global journey to net zero carbon.

COP26 President Alok Sharma

We will be building on efforts to urge all countries to bring forward ambitious plans to curb their emissions ahead of the event itself.

COP26 President Alok Sharma

It is vital everyone comes together to deliver the change needed to tackle climate change and protect our planet.

COP26 President Alok Sharma

COP26 will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with over 30,000 delegates, including world leaders, experts, campaigners and government officials.

A portrait photograph of Nigel Topping wearing a white shirt and navy blue jacket

23.01.2020

Nigel Topping appointed UK High Level Climate Action Champion

5 minute read

Nigel Topping has today been appointed by the UK Government as the High Level Climate Action Champion for UN climate talks, COP26.

Nigel Topping has today been appointed by the UK Government as its High Level Climate Action Champion ahead of UN climate talks, COP26.

Mr Topping will help drive action from businesses, investors, organisations, cities, and regions on climate change and coordinate this work with governments and parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Champion role was created in 2015 at the climate talks in Paris to help realise ambitions to lower carbon emissions and build resilience to climate change.

It is held for two years and Mr Topping will work alongside the Chilean COP High Level Climate Action Champion, Gonzalo Muñoz.

Mr Topping was most recently CEO of We Mean Business, a coalition of businesses working to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Carbon Disclosure Project.

He brings valuable expertise from 18 years in the private sector, having worked across the world in emerging markets and manufacturing.

I am thrilled to be taking on the role of High Level Champion to support a successful COP26.

I will work tirelessly with the non-state actor community to help bring the very best of their work to Glasgow.

2020 is the year for us all to become climate champions and the start of a decade in which we reduce emissions by at least 50 per cent. This will require each one of us pushing our actions to the limit, then taking another step.

Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Action Champion

I am so pleased that Nigel Topping has agreed to play this vitally important Champion role in the year where we have to motivate everyone, from governments and businesses to regions, cities and citizens to commit to urgent climate action.

Nigel’s incredible experience in building coalitions and driving the focus on targets and actions means he is the best person we could possibly have in this job and I’m so looking forward to working together this year.

Claire O’Neill, COP26 President-Designate

I am very pleased to welcome Nigel Topping as the new High-Level Champion. We have seen incredible momentum from non-state actors as we work towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and continue to boost climate ambition in all sectors of society.

I’m confident Mr Topping brings the skills and experience needed to keep the momentum going and achieve the deep transformation to reach a zero-carbon future.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary

A photograph of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney

16.01.2020

Mark Carney to drive finance action for UK climate talks

5 minute read

Mark Carney to have key role in UN climate change conference.

The Prime Minister has appointed the outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney as a key adviser for the UN climate change conference, COP26.

Boris Johnson met today with Mr Carney in Downing Street where he confirmed his new role as the Prime Minister’s Finance Adviser for COP26.

Mr Carney will help the UK Government to mobilise ambitious action from across the financial system ahead of the UK summit in November.

As outgoing Governor of the Bank of England, Mr Carney has unparalleled experience. During his tenure the Bank of England was the first central bank to work on the implications of climate change on the financial system.

The potential for finance to affect the speed and scale of how the world reduces its emissions is huge.

Banks, pension funds and insurers have a huge role to play in directing investment to tackle climate change. But this requires significant changes in behaviour and considerable new investment – Mr Carney will advise on how we can achieve both.

This new role will complement Mr Carney’s work in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, which was announced in December. He will assume both roles when he steps down as Governor of the Bank of England early this year.

More than 30,000 people are expected to attend COP26, including heads of state and government, experts and campaigners.

Delegates will be discussing ambitious ways in which the world can lower emissions to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees of warming.

Mark Carney is an invaluable addition to the COP26 team. His expertise will help the UK to lead in mobilising businesses and investors to support our net zero revolution.

Hosting COP26 in Glasgow will be a golden opportunity for the UK and the global community as we push for as many countries as possible to follow our lead and commit to ending their contribution to climate change by 2050.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

I am honoured to have been appointed by the Prime Minister as the Finance Adviser for COP26 in Glasgow.

The combination of these critical meetings and the UK’s global leadership in financial services provides a unique opportunity to address climate change by transforming the financial system. To seize it, all financial decisions need to take into account the risks from climate change and the opportunities from the transition to a net zero economy.

The UK has a plan to do just that, and I look forward to working with the private sector, HM government, the Bank of England and all stakeholders to help make this promise of sustainable finance a reality.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and the Prime Minister’s Finance Adviser for COP26

I am thrilled that Mark Carney has accepted the position as our Prime Minister’s Finance Adviser for COP26.

Everyone has to be in if we are to successfully tackle climate change and the Governor’s expertise will be a huge boost in helping us to harness the power of global financial markets, companies and investors to hit net zero emissions.

I’m looking forward to working with Mr Carney as November approaches and I hope together we can influence real change in the finance sector.

Claire O’Neill, COP26 President-Designate