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Will COP26 be the Moment When Our Leaders Lead?

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

By Trevor Neilson

History shows us that change comes from people. We’re seeing the impact of activist pressure all over the world, and in recent weeks commitments to tackle emissions have increased from the business community. But governments have a role in making change easier and that’s what we need to see this week.

The tide is turning on fossil fuels. Climate Action 100+, a group of investors with $55tn in assets, is exerting pressure to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters tackle climate change. Technologies that address the climate and nature crises are bringing opportunities to lower emissions all the time, and some of these are at the tipping point to mass adoption.

One of these technologies is WasteFuel, which is bringing new technologies to the market to revolutionize mobility by air, land, and sea. We transform waste into renewable fuels to tackle the waste and emissions crises together and operate knowing the calls from consumers and activists for cleaner supply chains are getting louder all the time. In recent week’s we’ve seen the strength of this demand create significant change from some of the shipping sector’s biggest customers.

Nine companies, including Amazon and Ikea, committed to use only zero-carbon fuel in cargo ships by 2040. This commitment is monumental for the decarbonization of maritime shipping. The size of the businesses in the partnership will undoubtedly funnel investment and collaboration into renewable and sustainable fuels and deliver adoption at scale of solutions in one of the hardest to decarbonize sectors.

Policy makers have a role to play in orchestrating efforts and making sure the strategies in place are truthful and deliver genuine change. COP is the opportunity for governments to catch up with the expectation of their citizens and accelerate rather than constrain the transition. In shipping, it’s crucial nations at COP26 state that they will ensure shipping has Paris-compatible targets and policies for 2030 and 2050.

There’s a virtuous circle that needs to be in place if we’re going to reduce our emissions at the pace we need to. Technology, citizens, and governments needs to amplify each other’s progress. Leadership from government in the form of national roadmaps to keep emissions low, guidance and regulation to stop greenwashing, and climate finance to support poorer countries deal with the consequences of a warming climate are all critical parts of the equation in making net zero operations business as usual.

The world is in a different place than it was during COP25. The horrific unfolding of climate change we’re already witnessing, whether in the form of fires, flooding or storms, is a call to action that’s being responded to by business leaders and amplified by consumers and activists.

Next week, COP26 Transport Day will bring the opportunity for government’s to catalyze on the efforts of business and the demands of citizens for greener logistics. Today we’re seeing the impact that individuals calling for greater action can have, but our political leaders need to play their role in making the greener options the easier ones. COP26 is the moment to co-ordinate the energy of governments, business, and people. If governments miss this opportunity to do their part, all our efforts will be made harder.

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