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ASCM Insights

COP26 Reflects the World’s Desire to Accelerate Climate Action

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This week, world leaders have been meeting in Glasgow to address climate change, a topic that is as critical to business as it is to life itself. At the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), representatives of nearly every country in the world are setting targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions; phase out coal use; support natural carbon sinks, such as forests; and finance transitions to clean energy and climate change adaptations in poorer countries. 

In his opening address, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told COP26 attendees that humans have run out the clock on climate change. “It’s one minute to midnight … and we need to act now,” he said. What’s more, climate-change negotiation efforts are a year behind because COP26 was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

Just in this past year, we have seen symptoms of climate change affect many parts of the globe. China, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands grappled with catastrophic flooding. North America sweltered through multiple deadly heat waves. And Madagascar struggled with the worst drought in four decades and the world’s first climate-change-induced famine. Some experts note that the communities most affected by climate change are the ones that have done the least to cause it and are among the least represented at COP26.

There is certainly much work to be done. By Thursday afternoon, COP26 participants had completed the following actions:

  • New greenhouse gas emissions pledges are set to limit global warming to the 2 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement.
  • Seventy-seven countries agreed to stop funding new coal-fired power plants, a deal that brings previous holdouts such as Poland and Vietnam into a growing coalition of countries vowing to wean their economies off fossil fuel.
  • More than 40 countries committed to shift away from coal; yet some of the world's biggest coal-dependent countries, including China and the United States, did not sign up.
  • More than 100 leaders representing 85% of the world’s forests agreed to end deforestation by 2030.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will become carbon neutral by 2070. For context, China has pledged to meet this goal by 2060, and the United States and the European Union are working toward 2050. The popularity of solar power is credited with propelling India toward its 2070 goal.
  • The Global Methane Pledge, an alliance of 90 countries, aims to cut global methane emissions 30% by 2030. China, Russia and India have not yet joined this pact.
  • The United States rejoined the High Ambition Coalition, which intends to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming goal.
  • Ecuador announced it is expanding the protected marine reserve around the Galapagos Islands.
  • World leaders agreed to the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda, a plan to introduce more clean technologies and drive down their costs to aid with the global transition to green energy.
  • The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States have approved the $8.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership to support South Africa’s decarbonization efforts.
  • More than 20 countries and financial institutions have promised to stop financing overseas fossil fuel development and divert the $8 billion a year to green energy.
  • More than 450 financial institutions from 45 countries have pledged that all assets they manage will be aligned with net zero emissions by 2050. However, experts say the significance of this pledge is questionable because banks can invest in fossil fuels and only need to divert a small slice of their funding to low-carbon initiatives. Still, it is intended to be one of the United Kingdom’s top achievements during COP26.

In the summit’s opening remarks, naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough urged leaders to work together to stop carbon emissions, noting that independent behaviors caused the destabilization of the planet but that cooperation could save it. He left attendees with this inspirational message: “In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a terrible decline. In yours, you could witness a wonderful recovery.”

There is something you can do

The broad message is clear: We must do better. An organization’s environmental and social impacts are just as important as its economic ones. To that end, ASCM is helping supply chains become leaders in ethical, economic and ecological practices through the ASCM Enterprise Standards for Sustainability.

ASCM is proud to openly share these industry-leading standards, which validate supplier quality, development or selection; identify gaps for supply chain continuous improvement; and confirm and update supply chain strategy. They also map to several of the UN’s sustainable development goals, including gender equality; responsible consumption and production; quality education; decent work and economic growth; and climate action.

It’s high time for inspired problem-solving. Learn more about the publicly available standards today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer at ASCM, the largest nonprofit association for supply chain and the global leader in supply chain organizational transformation and innovation. Prior to this, he was the managing director for the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. His leadership roles have included project management, business process redesign, and individual and organizational alignment. Eshkenazi may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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