45. Weekly Newsletter

COP26 First Week

The first week of COP26 in Glasgow has been completed, with proceedings set to conclude this Friday (12th November, having featured 25,000 delegates from 200 countries. Around 120 heads of state made appearances at the summit which was opened by HRH Prince Charles. However, China’s Jinping and Russia’s Putin were not in attendance and the BBC has reported that other countries have been lobbying to protect fossil fuel industries. Despite conflicts in the agenda, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) now represents over $130 trillion in assets under management and firmly positions the financial sector within the global effort for net-zero by 2050.

COP26 has ushered in a new wave of climate commitments such as India’s net-zero target for 2070 and over 100 nations, who host in excess of 85% of forests globally, committing to end deforestation. On Wednesday (3rd November) the UK committed to “rewire the global financial system for net-zero” through plans for corporate climate disclosures and introducing sovereign green bonds. Another of the landmark positions taken by the nation was to announce that all large businesses and public enterprises will have to develop net-zero transition plans by the end of 2024. This week, COP26 began with former US president Obama delivering a speech on the importance of activism and will go on to feature topics such as ‘electric cars’ on Wednesday (10th November).

The Newspapers & COVID

The UK’s newspapers, over the last week, have covered a wide range of topics with government’s favoured newspaper, The Telegraph, running the provocative headline “UK to ditch £15bn EU deal if Brussels goes hostile”. This comes from the revelation that UK ministers are ‘prepared’ to walk away from the bloc’s flagship science projects if there is no Northern Ireland settlement. Other front pages include: ‘Wait for an ambulance almost doubles in a year’ (The Independent), Conservative Party scandals and HM the Queen’s urge to world leaders to “achieve true statesmanship” to save the planet.

Over 9.3m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID over the course of the pandemic but with cases slowing: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, on Monday (8th November), began a dual runway take-off as they finally resumed nonessential domestic travel to the US. A total of 141,862 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 50.26m people (over 90% of adults) have received their first vaccine, 45.85m have received their second, and 10.31m (up 2.4m since last week) have received their third/booster dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to over 106m.

Political Developments

One of the main news stories from over the last week has surrounded the prominent Conservative Party MP, Paterson, who was found to have breached ‘Commons advocacy rules’ due to “repeatedly” using his position to benefit the two companies for whom he worked secondary jobs. Following a delay, the long-serving MP resigned from Parliament and thus triggers a by-election in his ‘politically consistentNorth Shropshire seat. However, the ruling party already faces defending another two by-elections in Essex and East London– whilst also potentially trying to win a new seat Leicester where the Labour MP was last month convicted of harassment.

PM Johnson faces these obstacles at a challenging time as the UK aims to avoid another rise in COVID cases and polling suggests his party is currently waning support. On Monday (9th November), national voting intentions according to IpsosMORI were:

  • Labour – 36% (+4% since last election)
  • Conservatives – 35% (-8%)
  • Greens – 11% (+8%)
  • Liberal Democrats – 9% (-2%)

This marked the Conservative Party’s first polling ‘loss’ to Labour, by IpsosMORI, since October of 2020 and captures a consistent trend of tightening margins between the two main parties.

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