Responsible Business

Overlooked COP26 outcomes with impact potential

January 11, 2022 - 4 minutes
A worm's eye view of a forest.
In the past month, international pledges on deforestation, methane emissions, and net-zero highlighted during COP26 have settled into organizing principles for near-term policy. The public and private wheels seem to be in motion in what John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate at the U.S. State Department, calls "the most exciting transformation since the industrial revolution."

This transformation is evidenced by a steady stream of recent stakeholder announcements, including:
  • The immediate halt to federal support for overseas coal plants in the U.S.
  • EU Gas Markets and Hydrogen Package intended to decarbonize European gas markets and hasten the transition to renewable fuels, including hydrogen
  • The launch of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance's Common Ground Taxonomy which aims to compare and harmonize the European and Chinese green taxonomies
  • Amundi's announcement that it will exclude companies with more than 30% activity exposure to unconventional oil and gas extraction
Although the global focus has been on government pledges, it's the pledges made by public-private partnerships that featured the most tangible, sector-specific initiatives with quantified targets. Most of these were announced to much less fanfare than the headline government pledges.

Overview of Declarations and Initiatives

In total, there were 41 declarations, pledges and initiatives listed as COP26 outcomes; around half of the outcomes were government alliances, 30% public-private partnerships and just over 10% were privately led.

Despite calls for increased focus on adaptation, just over half of COP26 outcomes focused exclusively on mitigation and featured targets for the energy, transport, buildings, and industrial sectors. Another 40% addressed mitigation and adaptation, mostly through conservation and restoration of forests, and protection of indigenous community land rights. The remaining outcomes included declarations from the health and education sectors and multilateral development banks.

The list of signatories to each of these outcomes tells its own subplot from the COP26 climate negotiations. We focused on the major economies and biggest emitters that drive global GHG emissions trendlines. As the host, the United Kingdom led or signed just about every declaration including the Powering Past Coal Alliance and declarations on shipping, aviation, zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), and sustainable agriculture. The U.S., European Union and its members were dependably present on most declarations with a couple of brow-raising exceptions. Canada, Australia, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Middle Eastern countries selected their declarations somewhat more judiciously; some were surprisingly absent on major declarations, including for a statement on just transitions, the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, and declarations on ZEVs, aviation, and shipping.

Sector-specific COP26 outcomes

We've highlighted a few of the sector-specific COP26 outcomes that received much less attention than the methane or deforestation pledges, but offer tangible, investment-ready opportunities for impact. We have also included a detailed review of the full list.
  • Declaration on Accelerating the Transition to 100% Zero-Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) commits signatories in the public sector to transition their fleets to zero emissions vehicles by 2025, and manufacturers to transition to 100% ZEV sales by 2035. China, Russia, Brazil, and the U.S. did not sign.
  • Clydebank Declaration for Green Shipping Corridors will establish six green shipping corridors with major investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy at ports, with operators and ship manufacturers by 2025. China, Russia, Brazil, and India did not sign.
  • International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition will develop sustainable aviation fuel and further develop the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). China, Russia, Brazil, and India did not sign.
  • Green Grids Initiative commits signatories to building international transmission lines that connect renewable resources between continents, expands and modernizes national grids, incorporates ZEVs, and ramps up mini grids. Australia, India, the U.S., France, and the U.K. were on the steering committee, with notable signatories Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Notably absent were Canada, Brazil, and Russia.
  • The Mission Innovation – Breakthrough Energy Collaboration Agreement, a private-sector led initiative, commits signatories to drive down the green premium for green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, direct air capture and long duration energy storage. This builds on the Breakthrough Agenda's previous commitments on power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture.
  • Agricultural Commodity Companies Corporate Statement of Purpose represents 12 agribusiness' commitment to sharing a roadmap for enhanced supply chain action and transparency on scope 3 emissions by COP27. It includes big names like Cargill, Bunge, Marfrig and Wilmar International.

Learn more about COP26 negotiations and the role of the private sector


Headshot of Sophie Dejonckheere


Director, Sustainable Finance & Corporate Transitions, TD Securities

Headshot of Sophie Dejonckheere


Director, Sustainable Finance & Corporate Transitions, TD Securities

Headshot of Sophie Dejonckheere


Director, Sustainable Finance & Corporate Transitions, TD Securities

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