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Race to zero: Is your business ready for COP26?

By Grace Melville
16th March 2021


All eyes will be on the UK this year as hosts of the talks. How can COP26 have a legacy beyond the conference for your business?


6D Banners 2021-02 (1)


In November 2021 heads of state, climate experts and campaigners from all over the world will convene in Glasgow and agree coordinated action to tackle climate change at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP).

Public focus on climate change has intensified over the last few years and scrutiny over how organisations are responding will separate the leaders from the laggards. 

“As the transition accelerates, companies with a well-articulated long-term strategy, and a clear plan to address the transition to net zero, will distinguish themselves with their stakeholders – with customers, policymakers, employees and shareholders – by inspiring confidence that they can navigate this global transformation. But companies that are not quickly preparing themselves will see their businesses and valuations suffer, as these same stakeholders lose confidence that those companies can adapt their business models to the dramatic changes that are coming”. – Larry Fink


First things first: What is COP26?

The COP26 event is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. This year’s conference will be the most important summit since the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015:

  • COP26 presents the first opportunity to review whether the Paris ‘ratchet mechanism’ is working, under which countries are expected to submit strengthened climate pledges (NDCs) every five years. 119 countries still have not updated their targets and will need to do so at COP26 at the very latest. 
  • Governments still need to finalise outstanding elements of the Paris
    Agreement architecture and agreements made this year will significantly shape future policy and legislative action.
  • COP26 will see the launch of new collective finance goals. At COP21 countries agreed to mobilise $100billion per year to support climate action in developing countries.  


The role of business in driving change at COP26 and beyond

The UK government is hosting the talks this year and wants to show the rest of the world what ambitious climate action looks like.  The government is asking businesses to make commitments to support their ambitious target of 68% reduction in emissions by 2030, for example, by committing to the Race to Zero

At Carbon Intelligence, we believe that business is the solution to creating a zero-carbon world.  Every business can take action and COP26 offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate leadership and drive long-lasting change within your organisation.  

Importantly, COP26 is already generating an enormous amount of interest in tackling climate change and businesses that do not have a robust action plan will be penalised by investors, customers and staff who expect action.

“Everyone understands this is an inevitable transition and the people who are slow will lose market share and take a bigger economic hit.” – Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Champion for Action COP26


4 ways to take action or risk being left behind

Prioritise climate action

We’ve outlined ways in which your organisation can take action and align its goals to the key themes of COP26. 

  1. Climate adaptation and resilience: 
  2. Clean energy: 
  3. Clean transport:
  4. Nature based solutions
  5. Climate finance
    • Implement carbon pricing
    • Incorporate net zero aligned investment strategies


Develop a manifesto for what you want from governments and from COP26

  • What are the climate issues most relevant to your sector and your business?
  • What do you want governments to do to solve these issues?
  • What commitments should governments be making? 
  • What policy and regulatory help does business need?


Be proactive, what does your presence at COP look like?

  • Become an official sponsor
  • Partner with an official sponsor (perhaps a customer, a supplier or an industry body)
  • Agree on the themes you want to have a conversation about internally – set up forums to take the discussion forward
  • Agree on the themes you want to discuss externally – what thought leadership should you be creating? How will this build your brand? How could this have longevity and generate value in the long-term?
  • Watch for media opportunities and to engage in the wider conversation. 
  • Understand your competitors response to COP26 and stay ahead


Engage your employees

  • Engage your C-Suite through a workshop to help them REALLY understand the issues – at a macro as well as company-level
  • Engage your staff – how do they feel? Do they feel connected with your company’s approach to COP26 and sustainability? Launch a staff engagement campaign to amplify your message


How Carbon Intelligence can help

We are committed to supporting organisations understand and reduce their emissions in line with climate science, engage their people and create long lasting system change that will turn climate ambition into action and leave a legacy. The countdown to COP is on, don’t wait to act. Contact us today to see how we can support [email protected] 

‘The transition to net zero is happening and COP26 will only accelerate that change. Your company needs to have its house and priorities in order to embrace that change.’ Jonathan Sykes, Executive Chairman, Carbon Intelligence 

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