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Media Statement: The Nature Conservancy’s CEO on her COP26 highlights so far

As halfway stage approaches, Jennifer Morris shares her take on key commitments and collaborations from UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow

After all the delays, Covid-driven postponements, and shifting expectations, it’s hard to believe we’re already approaching the halfway point of the most significant (and hyped…) environmental gathering since the Paris Agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015.

This week and next, The Nature Conservancy’s team on the ground in Glasgow will be doing its best to cut through the enormous amounts of white noise and bring you our quickfire take on key themes and commitments to have emerged from COP26 so far.

The structure of this COP means major announcements were always likely to be front-loaded into the first 48 hours, when world leaders were in town – but given the growing global clamour for progress from communities across the world, we expect plenty more big news to hit before the conference disperses at the end of next week.

These stories set expectations, but they do not end with the final day of COP. The real stories will be found in the actions that follow – actions by nations, the private sector, and civil society, to deliver real results.

Please don’t hesitate to contact ciaran.clayton@tnc.org or tom.jennings@tnc.org from our Global Media Relations team for comment from Jennifer Morris or one of The Nature Conservancy’s many other on-the-ground experts on these and other COP-related themes…

Commenting on some of the key storylines to come out of COP26 so far, The Nature Conservancy’s CEO Jennifer Morris said:

  • Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use: ‘Given the enormous pressures facing our planet’s remaining forests, it’s no surprise that early headlines have been dominated by this major agreement – brokered by the UK government and signed by over 100 world leaders including those from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Colombia, Indonesia, and Russia – to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Our take: while this flagship commitment is welcome, the devil as always is in the detail – and 2030 is still a way off. Given current rates of deforestation and land degradation/conversion in many tropical countries, we look forward to more detail on country roadmaps and actions as well as other vital considerations like enforcement mechanisms, reforestation strategies, funding commitments and ensuring sufficient protection for indigenous forest communities.’
  • India’s NDC: ‘While Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to achieving a net-zero India by 2070 is a good start, many questions around implementation and details around these proposals remain, including the target of reaching 50% of India’s total energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. The fact that he went public with a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) warrants applause, even if it came couched with an expectation that developed economies make US $1 trillion of climate finance available ASAP to help accelerate the economic transition in countries including his own. We can expect these calls to intensify as the climax of COP26 approaches.’
  • IFACC: ‘One of the highlights of COP26 so far has been the announcement of the Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco (IFACC) initiative, an example of a critical need for farmer financing at scale, to accelerate the transition in sustainable production of soy and beef – two of the commodities most often associated with deforestation and land conversion in these critical South American ecosystems. I really believe that the level of ambition shown by the eight IFACC Declaration signatories – & Green Fund, AGRI3, DuAgro, Grupo Gaia, JGP Asset Management, Syngenta, Sustainable Investment Management, and VERT – to achieving $10 billion in commitments and $1 billion in disbursements by 2025, demonstrates the depth of our shared commitment to achieving a world where, as the industry expands to meet growing global demand, deforestation-and-conversion-free soy and cattle production becomes the norm rather than the exception across the world’s most biodiverse continent.’
  • Methane Pledge: ‘Led by the United States and European Union, more than 100 countries signed up to a global methane pledge, committing them to at least a 30% cut in emissions by the end of this decade. In the U.S. alone, steps will be taken to reduce the millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas that currently leaks from oil and gas infrastructure each year, under the Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. We are pleased to see affirmative global action on a problem that’s for too long played second fiddle to CO2.’
  • Adaptation: ‘As temperatures continue to rise, so investment in helping the most vulnerable communities adapt to the accelerating effects of the climate crisis becomes ever more paramount. The Biden Administration’s launch of PREPARE – the PResident’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and REsilience – pledges to distribute US $3 billion in financial support annually by 2024 to those on the frontlines of climate change – representing the United States’ largest-ever adaptation commitment to date. By coordinating a cross-government approach to this challenge, bringing together diplomatic, development and technical experts in service of more than half a billion people in developing countries, PREPARE represents a promising new blueprint for adaptation aid, which also mirrors the 2030 timeline required by the Sustainable Development Goals.’
  • Beginning of the end for ‘Old King Coal’? : “Nearly 40 countries committed to phasing out coal-fired power, in an effort to lower global emissions from the energy sector. This is a critical first step in delivering a global energy transition, and we encourage other countries to strongly consider their energy production models and move towards a low carbon future immediately.”
  • Other commitments of note: ‘President Iván Duque demonstrated continued leadership by committing to achieving Colombia’s ‘30x30’ land and ocean protection goal as early as 2022. This noteworthy escalation in ambition is a great demonstration of how the Paris Agreement’s ‘ratchet’ mechanism of progressively increasing ambition was designed to work. Coming from one of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries, reckoned to play host to as much as 10% of total global biodiversity, Duque’s commitment also echoes The Nature Conservancy’s calls to tackle the interconnected crises of climate breakdown and nature loss in parallel.’

For expert comment on these or any other COP26 storylines, please contact media@tnc.org

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.