Is 1.5 still alive?

The CoP President, Alok Sharma, has brought the gavel down on CoP26 in Glasgow. What did it achieve, was it a success? Did it achieve its objectives and what are the implications for business? Has CoP26 been a success? Is 1.5C still alive?

Post the conference, there are a plethora of workshops and webinars discussing these questions.  There is no doubt that the formal and informal discussions made tangible progress across the spectrum on the climate emergency, but it is also true that this alone is not enough to hold global warming to 2C, let alone 1.5C. Much more needs to be done next year before CoP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

One thing that has worked is the ratchet mechanism that was agreed in Paris. At each review, countries are required to improve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s). While this has worked, the current and updated NDC’s will lead to a warming of 2.4C. Only if we add in all the promises made at Cop26, do we get close to the target of a 1.5 C rise in global warming. Global warming of 1.5C will have a significant impact on all communities, a rise of 2.4C will be disastrous, especially for the most vulnerable communities around the world.

The devil is in the detail of the agreements but the references to phasing out fossil fuels, reducing methane, de-emphasising coal and addressing deforestation are all positive steps but these still fall short of expectations. The reality is that we must move from an 80/20 split of fossil fuel/ renewables in the energy mix now to 20/80 by 2050. At present approximately 65% of projects in the energy sector in the next 5 years are in ‘classic’projects and only 35% in renewables /energy transition. If we are to achieve this shift by 2050, there will have to be a massive switch of investments, and given project lead times, this will have to be in the next 5-10 years.  This switch will have a massive impact on countries, companies and communities and those that don’t adapt may be left‘stranded’.

More than ever before at CoP, Nature was recognised as a key component of the Net Zero journey. Nature, and Nature-based Solutions will be a key if we are to achieve Net Zero, as cutting GHG emissions are unlikely to be enough. As some countries and sectors will be unable to hit Net Zero by 2050,it will fall on the richest nations to cut below Net Zero using nature, particularly on direct air capture to absorb GHG from the atmosphere

The energy transition will create opportunities for businesses that can adapt. Those that don’t may not survive, especially as they come under closer scrutiny from customers, governments, shareholders, investors and employees, ensuring that their activities and products are clean and green,  

The energy transition will be expensive, but some argue less expensive that doing nothing! Finance was at the heart of CoP26. There was alot of progress and announcements but there was disappointment at the delivery of the promised $100bn per annum. The failure to adequately address “loss and damage” risks creating an even bigger divide between the developed and developing world. As highlighted at CoP26, it will take trillions of dollars to reach Net Zero and there will have to be greater transparency from countries,businesses and projects in order to achieve this.

Finally, CoP26 was full of ideas and innovation. There seems little doubt that we have the technology and funds to solve the climate emergency but we are seriously short of the one commodity we can’t control:  TIME. We have 8 years to 2030 and 1 year to CoP27, we must make significant progress urgently. As Sir David Attenborough said in his speech: “there is only one number that matters …. the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…failure to reduce this will put humanity at risk”.

British Expertise International is currently running the Climate Change Working Group, where members have recently published three new reports which:

·        Provide an overview of the theme and defines some the of key concepts;

·        Inform and outlines some of the problems in these topics;

·        Offer a unique framework that summarises to stakeholders the various problems and solutions on offer;

·        Map out where each member has certain expertise and services.

You can find all of our reports here.

If you are interested in membership and access to the BEI Climate Change Working Group, please contact

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