COP26 Week 1: What has been dished up so far?

After a one-year delay due to Covid-19, the 26th Conference of the Parties finally kicked off in Glasgow last week, drawing a throng of world leaders, business leaders and climate activists. Will it deliver? Or is it more ‘bla bla bla’, the now infamous words of Greta Thunberg who has already written the conference off as greenwash. Is she right to do so?

‘Paris promised, Glasgow must deliver’ said the UK’s COP26 President Alok Sharma in his opening address. In light of ever accumulating and verifiable climate data and modelling, it really is, or should be, a make or break gathering of minds. The moment to turn ‘build back better’ mantras into concrete action. Without firm commitments and follow through action, runaway climate breakdown is inevitable. There is no wiggle room when it comes to climate science. ‘We made some progress’ simply won’t cut it. We either reduce emissions to the required level in time to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, or we risk flicking the first domino in a feast of frightful feedback loops.

So, what has COP26 dished up so far? Is it all hot air and haggis, or is there some meat to the bone?

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The UK’s transition to high-efficiency low carbon buildings

Published immediately prior to the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, the Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out the government’s plan to significantly cut carbon emissions from the UK’s 30 million homes and workplaces in ‘a simple, low-cost and green way’.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy, published on 19 October, builds on the commitments made in the  2018 Clean Growth: Transforming Heating review, the Energy White Paper and 10 Point Plan. It aims to set out the strategic decisions that need to be taken in the coming decades in order to reach net zero by 2050. Like the transition to electric vehicles, decarbonising residential, commercial, industrial and public sector buildings will be a gradual transition, which will start by incentivising consumers and driving down costs.  Gradual as it may be, it is no mean feat: heating these buildings contributes to almost a quarter of all UK emissions.

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