Science and Innovation at COP26 – New agreements on climate resilience, low carbon tech and health

Finance, Policy and Climate Action

Science and Innovation at COP26 – New agreements on climate resilience, low carbon tech and health

The recent science and innovation day at COP26 involved a series of new collaborations between nations in an attempt to make low-carbon materials and technologies more affordable and to improve climate resilience in developing countries.
The first significant revelation came this week, with 23 governments confirming a new list of focus areas within the ‘Mission Innovation initiative. Continuing on the previous work to decarbonise hydrogen generation and shipping, new measures will focus on urban areas and industrial processes, scaling renewable power and introducing carbon capture technologies at scale.
Mission Innovation members collectively represented over 90% of global public investment in low carbon energy innovations in 2019. Countries include Australia, the UK, the EU, China and India. Announced this week was a development to the ‘Breakthrough Agenday’ introduced last week to make clean technology more affordable and appealing compared to high-carbon tech in all locations by 2030.
The initiative has appointed an independent group of professionals to form the International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and UN High-Level Climate Action Champions to hold participants to account. The representatives will support committed nations increase collaboration, encourage other countries to participate and deliver annual progress reports. The sectors within the Breakthrough Agenda collectively make up over 50% of global annual emissions, including steel, road transport and agriculture.
Announced earlier this week is the Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI). Nations have committed to disclosing carbon in public construction projects by 2025 at the latest. These plans will create a baseline for generating a 2030 reduction target for carbon. The UK, the UAE, India, Germany and Canada have confirmed their participation in the scheme.
Separately, the UK and Italy are creating a new research project to address challenges that hinder our progress towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. The UK Government has also confirmed a separate £7m fund for space innovation, focusing on climate and environmental management. Projects gaining support will include an assessment of energy inefficiency via a satellite project measuring thermal emissions from buildings and a forest management tool that explores the health of ecosystems from space.
Adaption Research Alliance
This week, an Adaption Research Alliance (ARA) was confirmed, bringing together 90 governments, academics, research and community groups to increase the resilience of communities most impacted by climate change. The first project by the ARA is referred to as CLARE and is supported by the UK and Canada. The plan will support the development of new solutions that directly benefit over 5 million people in Africa and beyond.
The focus on gender
Aside from science and innovation, COP26 has focused on gender. There are many ways where there is climate challenge and gender integrates. Studies have consistently shown that women are more likely than men to be displaced by the physical impacts of climate change.
The truth is there is still a lack of equal access to education and family planning services, and this prevents many women from contributing to climate solutions and development. Women have not historically been represented proportionately in governments and businesses at global climate discussions like COP26. The She Changes Climate campaign directly encourages groups to put forward a 50/50 delegate of diverse women at senior levels. There continues to be further discussion on diversity at COP26. Earlier this week, the UK highlighted that £165 million would go towards initiatives supporting women in Asia-Pacific to work in activities such as green finance and climate adaptation.

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