Travelling by electric shuttle bus to get to Climate Action Solution Centre's workshop
The COP26 mid point offered the chance to take stock on a busy week and recharge our batteries. Any hopes of a quiet second week were short lived however, as we boarded our 6am Glasgow-bound train on Monday morning with a busy day ahead!
Mark Sommerfeld, Head of Power and Flexibility at the REA, had now joined the team and his first event was at the UK Pavilion hearing about UK approach to climate adaptation – with the key message from Prof. Dame Julia King of the Climate Change Committee that ‘adaptation has to be considered at the local and global scale’.
Travelling by electric shuttle bus, our Chief Executive, Nina Skorupska, attended Climate Action Solution Centre’s workshop: ‘Building Sustainable Mineral Supply Chains for the Energy Transition’. It was great to hear from the Climate-Smart Initiative – supported by the World Bank – about some key projects to increase transparency and ensure countries and companies are held accountable for metals and minerals needed for green technologies.
We were also present for the morning’s ‘informal stocktaking plenary by the President’ in the Blue Zone. There was, at times, a deep frustration in the room – it was clear that there was a lot of work ahead if countries were to come to a substantive agreement.
There were also two key evening engagements. First, we were at Energy Networks’ event where we heard from ex-Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull who said that, “despite disappointing commitments from Australia, the country is up for the challenge.”
Meanwhile, Nina joinedOctopus EV’s meeting of industry leaders and experts at the Blair Estate: ‘Scaling EVs: An honest conversation about the key challenges that could slow us, and options to solve them.’
Latest Tesla models on display ahead of the round table
Tuesday began with a World Bioenergy session on unlocking Net Zero through investment in bioenergy and BECCS. We heard from the UK’s former Secretary of State for Energy, Amber Rudd who said: “The UK is now committed to bioenergy carbon capture and storage. The science shows we have to have it, while the finance and industry is moving to deliver it.”
Tuesday was also Gender day, so Nina spent the morning with UN Women, listening to powerful, thoughtful and emotive speakers from politics, activism and the United Nations. Environmental activist Nina Gualinga was the keynote speaker, and campaigns to protect indigenous people of the Amazon from extractive industries and violence against women. You can hear Nina’s thought’s on Gender day in the video below.
Jacob Roberts, our Transport Policy Manager, attended session on ‘Decarbonising Transport: Driving implementation actions and turning targets into a transformation’, where he heard interesting comments on decarbonising ‘hard to reach’ areas. Airbus, for example, explained their net zero strategy is based on SAFs (Sustainable Aviation Fuels) and then hydrogen.
The evening once again saw the team head off to two events. First was with the Food and Drink Federation, hearing from Coco-cola and then the Scotch Whisky Association about their ambition to hit net zero by 2040. At the same time was a round table with Tesla, Chargepoint and others talking all things EV.
Nina chairing the Q&A at our event with the NFU
As we entered the conference on Wednesday we were presented with the Government’s new chargepoint design. See their effort in our video below – will it catch on?
We were then at the launch of the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy, to which we are signatories. This is an important statement putting sustainability at the centre of using bioenergy to help the world get to net zero.
Jacob Roberts also attended the morning’s Jet Zero event in the UK Pavilion, listening to speakers including Robert Courts MP and Baroness Brown.
In the afternoon it was the REA’s turn to play host, alongside the NFU, to our own COP26 fringe event exploring the integration of renewables and clean technology in agriculture. On our expert panel we heard from the NFU’s Jonathan Scurlock; William Cracroft-Eley, Chairman of Terravesta; Philipp Lukas, CEO of FutureBiogas; Neil Lindsay, Land & Development Director at Solar2; Charles Stevenson, General Manager at JCB; as well as our very own Jenny Grant.
Thank you to all our brilliant speakers and all who attended in person and online to make this event a great success – but don’t worry if you missed it, you can watch whole stream again here: https://www.linkedin.com/video/live/urn:li:ugcPost:6864191783492997120/
The day didn’t end there. Members of the REA team then went to join a talk from Hitachi Rail, as well as attending the Coalition for Negative Emissions reception where we heard from a range of innovative, forward-looking speakers.
Nina at Bright Blue's bioenergy panel discussion
Thursday was another early start – Nina caught up with Aasmah Mir and Stig Abell on Times Radio to talk about the progress of COP26 so far you, you can watch again here:
Nina was then on the panel for Bright Blue’s event discussing the role of bioenergy and Net Zero.
The REA team were then back in the Blue Zone to hear from UN Secretary António Guterres and Nigel Topping, the UK’s High Level Champion for Climate Action at COP26.
Nina and Jacob followed that up with Hitachi at their event ‘Towards NetZero – greening cities through low carbon connected transport’. They heard from West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor Andy Street; Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur; London Deputy Mayor Shirley Rodrigues; and Teodora Kaneva, Head of Infrastructure at techUK.
Mark Sommerfeld was back in the Blue Zone on the last ‘official’ day of COP26, as it looks likely that crunch talks will go on into the weekend. Here are his thoughts from Friday lunchtime:
And Nina summed up her experience of two weeks in Glasgow as she boarded her train home to Devon in this video: