46. Weekly Newsletter

COP26 Summary

The new global “Glasgow Climate Pact” has emerged from the COP26 Summit and was welcomed by many but also faces expectations for increased contributions going forward. The document is not legally binding but sets an international agenda on climate change, it focuses upon:

  • Emissions – meeting next year to pledge further CO2 cuts and keep temperature increase within 1.5C
  • Coal – first COP conference with explicit plan to reduce coal usage (with commitment to “phase down”)
  • Developing Countries – increase money to help switch to clean energy plus a fund to support this
  • Fossil Fuel Subsidies – leaders agree to phase-out subsidies (but no date set)
  • US and China – agreement to cooperate more over next decade (particularly in areas such as ‘methane’)
  • Trees – pledge to stop deforestation by 2030 signed by 100 countries
  • Methane – agreement to cut 30% of emissions by 2030 signed by 100 countries
  • Finance – financial organisations (controlling $130tn) agree to back “clean” tech such as renewables

Due to the nature of COP, most agreements are self-policed which develops levels of uncertainty in future global temperature rises. A number of observers have now estimated that the prospective temperature rise for the century is now at 1.8C following COP26 (down from 2.7C estimated by the UN Environment Programme at the start of the conference)- although critics argue the more ‘realistic’ improvement is around 2.1C by 2100. Looking forward, the COP27 summit will be held in Egypt next year.

Remembrance Sunday & COVID

The UK’s Armistice Day, commemorated at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month (at the same time as the Armistice ending WW1), with the annual two minute silence to remember all those who gave their lives in service to their country since 1914. On Saturday (13th November) ‘The Festival of Remembrance’ was hosted in Royal Albert Hall with attendance from the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, political leaders and senior military figures. Remembrance Sunday concluded the main proceedings for this time of reflection but was also the target of a suicide attack by an unknown to MI5 asylum seeker in Liverpool. The 32 year old man is believed to have been targeting Liverpool Cathedral, the sixth largest cathedral in the world, but due to traffic changed his directions for his taxi driver in order to target Liverpool Women’s Hospital. However, due to the heroic actions of the taxi driver: the attacker was then locked in the vehicle before the suicide bomb exploded. As a result of this the UK terror threat level has been raised to ‘severe’.

Over 9.56m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID over the course of the pandemic but cases are generally declining. A total of 142,945 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 50.58m people (over 90% of adults) have received their first vaccine, 46.03m have received their second, and 12.86m have received their third/booster dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to almost 110m.

Royal Dutch Shell move to London

Royal Dutch Shell, the largest company in Europe by revenue (£352bn), has announced plans to move its headquarters to the United Kingdom from the Netherlands. The move will also bring the company’s chief executive and seven other senior employees over to the British capital; the Business and Energy Secretary, Kwarteng, welcomed the announcement and tweeted that it was a “clear vote of confidence in the British economy”. However, concerns have been raised by the Dutch government, who were “unpleasantly surprised”, around the consequences of job losses and investment back in their economy.

The company will also be renaming itself to the shorter “Shell” name and comes at a time when the firm is looking to simplify. The measures will all be voted on 10th December and even include shifting Shell’s tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK; in 2019 the company was already contributing over £110m to HMRC and so any further changes could be a major boost to the Treasury. It is also worth noting that the recent complications in the Netherlands, such as the pension fund ABP selling its entire holdings in fossil fuel companies, may have also contributed to the move. The company is also appealing a court order in the Hague requiring specifically Shell to cut global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels).

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