Perspectives on the road to COP26: CERAWeek conversations

Image: IHS Markit CERAWeek Twitter

In a panel of distinguished experts recorded virtually on August 5th, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and EFI CEO Ernest Moniz spoke alongside Mary Nichols, former head of the California Air Resources Board, and Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, about the path to COP26 and what the conference must deliver to be a success.

The panel discussion, part of IHS Markit’s CERAWeek Conversations series featuring annual discussions with prominent leaders in the energy sector, was moderated by Carlos Pascual, Senior Vice President for Global Energy at IHS Markit and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine. The discussion centered on timely topics including the path to meeting net-zero goals, the importance of private sector investment in clean energy, and the value of coalition-building in addressing environmental justice and the global climate agenda.

The panel emphasized the importance of creating ambitious targets for 2030 in order to meet 2050 net-zero goals, suggesting the creation of these pathways as a metric of success for Glasgow’s COP26 conference. Secretary Moniz noted the impact of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in the development of the Paris Agreement and the establishment of technology and innovation as core components of climate solutions. He indicated that actionable climate ambition will be “kicked to Glasgow to put that ambition forward in the context of net-zero.”

Laurence, a key architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement who also serves on EFI’s Advisory Board, expressed a desire for “credibility across the board” regarding global follow-through on net-zero commitments and honesty regarding short and long-term ambitions at the COP26 conference. She also highlighted the importance of understanding the present impact of climate change and understanding the immediacy of financial consequences.

The panel discussed the value of unlocking private sector investment in clean energy, with Secretary Moniz and Nichols highlighting stability as a critical factor for prospective investors. Secretary Moniz noted the public sector’s role in establishing stable policy, allowing the private sector sufficient certainty to invest in clean energy deployment. “There is no way we are going to get the kind of deployment pace that we need to meet the NDCs that are coming forward for 2030 without rapidly unlocking private capital”, noted Moniz. Nichols agreed, noting the United States’ uncertain image in re-entering global climate change discussions.

There is no way we are going to get the kind of deployment pace that we need to meet the NDCs that are coming forward for 2030 without rapidly unlocking private capital.

Secretary Moniz

Environmental justice was also highlighted as a critical component of efforts to address climate change. “Ambition of the type that we want is going to require much more attention to our policies being progressive, and not having the poor bear a much bigger burden than they can take on,” said Secretary Moniz. Following this sentiment, Nichols expressed a need for countries to implement financial and moral commitments backing environmental justice and noted that theoretical solutions cannot be executed without first taking social factors into account. Laurence echoed that social issues must be put at the core of any action if ambition is to be developed and implemented.

Ultimately, Secretary Moniz underscored the importance of coalition building to address the issue of environmental justice and accelerating the clean energy agenda. Partnerships between the public and private sectors will be essential to moving forward in this decade, he expressed.

The full panel is available to watch here, on the CERAWeek website.

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