While the events of the past year revealed the fragility of many aspects of society, it also showed the critical role that we all must play in tackling some of the biggest long-term challenges. No issue proves this point more than the efforts to combat the effects of climate change.

Climate change is an undeniable reality, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions must be an urgent short- and long-term priority for both the public and private sector. This year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, took place from October 31st to November 12th in Glasgow, Scotland. The purpose of COP26 was to bring together the parties critical to accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In Glasgow, more than 100 onsite world leaders and thousands of behind-the-scenes climate negotiators approved a climate agreement that calls for the reductions in coal and fossil fuels, as well as emphasizes the transition to renewables. The Glasgow Climate Pact agreement to phase down coal and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is the first in the 25-year history of UN climate talks.

According to Alok Sharma, the conference’s president, “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. We must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact. It is up to all of us to sustain our lodestar of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach and to continue our efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation. After the collective dedication which has delivered the Glasgow Climate Pact, our work cannot be wasted.”

Ahead, find some of the important insights and agreements that emerged from COP26 2021.

Scaling global philanthropy to accelerate climate solutions

Of COP26’s four priorities, the goal to mobilize finance will play a critical role in delivering on goals One and Two, which include securing global net zero emissions by mid-century, keeping 1.5 degrees within reach, and adapting to protect communities and natural habitats. As COP26 outlined, in order to finance these efforts, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilize at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020.

“Today, there is more public and private finance for climate action than ever before,” says Sharma. “But to meet the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and keep 1.5 alive, we need developed countries to deliver on public finance, and to unleash the trillions required in private investment to create a net zero future and protect lives and livelihoods from the devastating effects of climate change.” The private sector showed strong engagement at COP26, with almost 500 global financial firms agreeing to align $130 trillion, about 40 percent of the world’s financial assets, to goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

Part of financing the fight against climate change involves curating impactful giving opportunities that match the interests and passions of philanthropists with ready-to-scale solutions sourced from the broader climate community. Ultimately, the lesson is that success in this fight won’t just be about finding solutions to the climate crisis—it will be about quickly matching emerging and impactful opportunities to philanthropic investment at scale. With their ability to be agile, take risks, and bring leverage, philanthropists can play a critical role in accelerating a cleaner, safer, and more equitable future for all.

Partnership to protect the plant

The climate is already changing, and it will continue to warm even as we reduce emissions with potentially devastating effects. The leaders of COP26 made clear that we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defenses, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives. The Glasgow Climate Pact calls on 197 countries to report their progress on their climate ambitions and move toward low emission sources of energy, including phasing out coal use. Though the document asks countries to bring their emissions targets in line with what would be needed to hold warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, no firm numbers were set during the conference.

To deliver on these targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewables. Achieving these big changes will depend on large-scale partnership. “That is why we have made finance such a key focus of COP26,” says Sharma. “It’s why these new commitments from nations and the private finance sector are so welcome, and why we continue to push for countries to do more to meet their finance obligations. Countries are telling us what they need, now global finance needs to respond.”

Environmental issues are at the forefront of an increasingly uncertain future, and creating solutions to global, complex challenges like climate change will require collaboration. This year, BCIU will continue to host a number of programs and roundtable discussions with climate leaders and advisors on a variety of issues related to climate action, including government incentives, policy and the role of the private sector.

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