Best of COP26

Our top picks of COP26 news and resources that are most relevant to the forestry and timber sector. 

16 November

COP26 Week 2 and roundup – Was it really that bad?

COP26 concluded last Saturday and, while it didn’t end on a high, after the final Agreement text had to be tweaked (many say “watered down”), there are still many reasons to be positive about it.

Yes, the Agreement commits countries to “phasing down” and not “phasing out” coal and fossil fuels and developing countries (many of which are the most at risk from the effects of climate change) were disappointed with the inadequate financial support developed nations agreed to provide to support mitigation and adaptation measures. But COP summits are stepping stones, not a quick fix for an enormous challenge.

So, here are some of the positive outcomes from COP26.

  1. The Glasgow Agreement recognises the negative impact of climate change. This one might look like a joke but it’s truly a game changer. At previous COPs there were successful efforts by many countries to cast doubt over the science demonstrating the negative impact of climate change, which inevitably questioned the credibility of the whole exercise. COP26 managed to get all countries to agree on the need to keep global warming at or below 1.5 C to avoid a natural catastrophe.
  2. The need to reduce the use of fossil fuels is mentioned for the first time. This is also the first time that all COP countries agree on the need to reduce (that infamous “phasing down”) the use of coal and fossil fuels.
  3. Stronger rules and structures for carbon markets and emission offsets. Previous COPs had agreed loose principles to allow countries to offset some of their emissions but the system allowed for double accounting. The Glasgow Agreement makes emission accounting stricter and more transparent, introducing one system for all countries, rather than allowing each country to apply its own interpretation.
  4. Progress on forests, forestry and sustainable land use. The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use not only pledges efforts to stop deforestation, but also recognises the “multiple values of forests” and the importance of sustainable forest management. This, together with the many examples of sustainable forests products used across the economy showcased at COP26, will be helpful in marking the difference between sustainable forestry practice like the one we apply in the UK and damaging deforestation.

In our December FTN, you will find more on COP26, what it all means and, most importantly, where it’s all headed next.

9 November

Minister joins Confor at COP26 timber house

The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon, MSP, met Confor on a visit to the Zero Carbon Home at COP26 to understand more about the enormous potential of building with home-grown wood. Read more

 

8 November

COP26 – Week 1 roundup

COP26 started last week with low expectations about what the summit could achieve given the absence of the leaders of China and Russia, two of the countries with the highest carbon emissions.

 So far, however, encouraging commitments have come out of the summit. Here are the most important ones.

  1. China commits to achieving net zero by 2060 and India followed suit with a commitment for 2070. While certainly longer term than the 2050 target the UK and most other developed countries subscribed to, these announcements represent major progress, coming as they are from two of the largest emitting countries. Read more
  1. The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use pledges to end and reverse global deforestation and land degradation by 2030 and also recognises the role sustainably managed forests play in supplying essential products. Initially, 100 countries, including the UK, of course, but also Brazil and China, signed the declaration and more keep joining their ranks. Confor chief executive, Stuart Goodall, welcomed the Declaration and said “With global demand for timber predicted to continue rising significantly, the way to prevent pressure on our fragile forests overseas is to grow more wood of our own. This means planting more forests in the UK specifically to produce more of the wood that the UK needs." Read more
  1. On COP26’s Nature and Land Use Day, a UN report was released that found that unsustainable practices in the agri-food system are responsible for 75% of the global loss of forests. In response to this, 45 countries, always led by the UK, agreed to a Policy Action Agenda that will support education and innovation to decarbonise farming and prevent further destruction of forests to support intensive and unsustainable practices. 
  1. The good news continued with a group of 20 major consumer goods corporations committing to a series of actions (investment in restoration as well as changes to their supply chains) to end deforestation caused by the agri-food system. Read more
  1. From 2023, the UK will require large businesses in high emitting sectors to publish a decarbonisation roadmap and regular updates on progress. This, alongside big British businesses joining the UN’s Race to Net Zero appeal, represents an important step towards building a low carbon economy in the UK. Read more

5 November

Global Forests need Global Governance’ | Tropical Timber Accord launches at COP26

A major new initiative to tackle illegal deforestation and strengthen legal governance frameworks in tropical forest producer countries and within international timber supply chains has been launched at COP26. Billed as a ‘call to action’ from the global private sector involved in forest management and timber production globally, the Tropical Timber Accord - ‘Global Forests need Global Governance’ highlights that strong, inclusive legal frameworks are essential for the sustainable management of tropical forests, which underpins all other climate policy ambitions. Read more

2 November

Welcome news on global forests - but leadership needed at home

Confor has welcomed the global leaders’ declaration to protect global forests at COP26 - and urged the UK to take greater responsibility for its own future wood supply. Read more

27 October

Global wood manifesto set for launch

An international wood manifesto making the case to politicians for a much greater use of wood in both construction and renovation will be launched in London tomorrow (Thursday, 28th October) on the eve of the global environmental summit COP26 in Glasgow. Read more