Written evidence submitted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office


Climate change, Development and COP26




The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The summit is a key demonstration of the government’s vision of a Global Britain, the UK’s diplomatic and international convening power, and the newly formed FCDO.

COP will take place in November 2021, the UK will be hosting the 26th annual session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, or “COP26”, in Glasgow. At the summit, delegates including heads of state, climate experts and negotiators will come together to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. As well as the negotiations, there will also be space for countries, international organisations, and other delegates to showcase climate action, highlight diverse climate change issues and share knowledge.


Our presidency falls during the first significant test of the Paris Agreement - where countries are expected to reassess their national commitments (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) against the overall temperature goal of Paris. That is: ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. It will also be a moment of reckoning on progress on the other pillars of the Paris Agreement - adaptation and finance. The UK will need to deliver a balanced outcome in raising ambition.


We have committed to hosting an inclusive, ambitious COP. In addition to working with Parties we need to engage meaningfully with non-state actors. At the forefront of this is engaging with non-state actors to secure science-based targets, including by encouraging them to commit to net zero by 2050 and join the Race to Zero, a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities. Inclusivity is central to our COP plans both in how we engage and in how we can facilitate more inclusive climate action in the future. This includes promoting and delivering on Action for Climate Empowerment, the Gender Action Plan, the Local Communities & Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. It also means demonstrating, in advance of and during COP26, that we have provided sufficient space for marginalised groups, experts and activists to express their priorities and have amplified their voices.


UK Climate Leadership


We have shown that domestic climate action can go hand-in-hand with economic prosperity, having grown our economy by more than three-quarters while cutting emissions by over 40 per cent since 1990. The UK’s recent announcement in the sixth carbon budget, of a 78% reduction in emissions by the end of 2035, shows the strength of our Climate Change Act and the legally binding framework it gives the UK. This framework allows us to plan and deliver a green industrial revolution - covering clean energy, transport, nature, and innovative technologies – which will create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK.


On 12 December 2020, the UK also communicated its new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). On 20 April through the UK’s sixth Carbon Budget the UK government set in law the world’s most ambitious climate change target, cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.


Four Goals


As the COP President Designate The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, made clear in his speech on 14 May at Whitelee Windfarm in Glasgow, the four goals of the UK Presidency are - delivering on mitigation, protecting communities and natural habitats from the impacts of climate change, mobilising finance, and working together to accelerate the delivery of our targets.

COP26 is our best chance to work together to keep limiting a global temperature rise to 1.5C alive. If we don’t act immediately, by the end of the century we will warm the world by at least 3C. This would cause catastrophic flooding, pollution, bush fires, extreme weather, and destruction of species. The four clear goals for the UK Presidency are:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

       Adaptation: The climate is already changing, and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Finance: To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020. International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Collaboration: We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together. At COP26 we must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational),and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.




The UK is committed to unleashing the full potential of the Paris Agreement at COP26 by facilitating agreement on outstanding elements of the ‘Paris rulebook’ as part of an, comprehensive and balanced negotiated outcome that facilitates ambitious action on mitigation, adaptation and finance.


As the incoming Presidency, we are committed to working with our COP26 partners Italy, the current COP Presidency Chile, the Chairs of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies and the UNFCCC Secretariat to provide clarity and direction to the process at this challenging time, whilst remaining flexible to ongoing coronavirus developments. We are committed to enabling progress across all the mandates we have been given and securing an outcome that respects and reflects the interests of all Parties, including the poorest and most climate vulnerable. Stimulating greater action on adaptation, resilience and loss and damage will be a priority. We want the UNFCCC process to facilitate the actions of countries as they put climate risk at the centre of decision making.


Finance is also key to delivering a successful negotiating package, where we will need to demonstrate that increased ambition can be financed and that support to developing countries is stepping up to meet the challenge. Central to this will be demonstrating that developed countries are meeting the $100bn annual climate finance goal and will continue to increase support to developing countries beyond 2020, as we launch discussions on its successor.




We are working with the current COP Presidency Chile, the Chairs of the Subsidiary Bodies, and the UNFCCC to ensure technical work is taken forward in a constructive and inclusive manner in the meantime. Despite the challenges around formal negotiations at this stage we have a coherent plan to make progress: ramping up ministerial engagement, monthly Heads of Delegation meetings on key topics, work led by the  UNFCCC Subsidiary Body Chairs and Constituted Bodies (the groups of experts progressing technical work within the process), and using the full range of established moments in the international climate change calendar - including the Petersburg Climate Dialogue, UN General Assembly and Pre-COP.


The COP President Designate has travelled extensively this year, meeting ministerial counterparts as well as negotiators in-person for open and honest exchange. These meetings have been complemented by virtual engagement, and he is nearing completion of a comprehensive round of consultations with all UNFCCC negotiating groups.




Ahead of the summit, the UK presidency has defined five areas vital to this zero-carbon future. Energy transitions, clean transport, nature-based solutions, adaptation, and resilience and, tying it all together, finance.


Adaptation & Resilience


       Even if we stopped emissions rising today, the world would still need to deal with significant climate disruption. We are working to build resilience to climate impacts through working with others to drive adaptation action, guided by ambitious adaptation plans that integrate effective disaster preparedness and response activities. To this end, we are encouraging countries to produce Adaptation Communications and engage in the National Adaptation Plan process.

       We are encouraging all countries to put in place and implement locally responsive plans. We are encouraging, and endorse, the Principles of Locally Led Adaptation. We are encouraging all countries to join the Adaptation Action Coalition, and all non-state parties to join the Race to Resilience, to create greater collaborative action to build resilience across the world, at all levels of society.

       We will work with donor countries, multilateral development banks and other public and private sources to improve access to and raise the overall quantum of adaptation focused climate finance, and press donors to achieve a balance in finance between adaptation and mitigation. We will also work with donor countries, multilateral development banks and other public and private sources to improve access to and raise the overall quantum of adaptation focused climate finance.




       Humanity faces the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss which, together, are undermining nature’s capacity to sustain healthy life, nutritious diets, and national economies. The two are inextricably linked and need to be tackled together urgently, with equal ambition.

       Agriculture, deforestation, and land-use change account for almost a quarter of global emissions and are amongst the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss. Natural carbon sinks like the ocean, peatlands and forests can go some way in reducing global emissions. Nature-based solutions, such as protecting and restoring forests, wetland and coastal ecosystems, can also help humanity adapt and build resilience in the face of climate change, lead healthy and productive lives, and stimulate economic development. A transition to use land and other natural resources more sustainably is vital and urgent.

       We will use our COP26 Presidency to build on the foundations laid at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. We will work with governments, businesses and civic organisations to raise ambition on tackling the drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss, mobilise financing to protect and restore critical ecosystems, and kick-start a just rural transition towards sustainable land use to benefit people, climate and nature.


Energy Transition


       To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, we need the global transition to clean power to be at least four times faster than it is at present.

       The power sector accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. As demand for energy grows, the power sector must grow and decarbonise in parallel. In particular, to stay within 1.5°C of warming, coal – the dirtiest source of power – must be rapidly phased out – by 2030 for the OECD and EU27, and by 2040 for other major emitters and by 2050 for the rest of the world.  Governments, businesses, and financial institutions can support this aim by joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance. 

       Dramatic cost reductions in solar and wind energy mean that renewables are now cheaper than new coal in most parts of the world, and bring benefits via improved air quality, energy access and security, and creating jobs in new industries.  Renewables made up over 70% of new generating capacity added globally in 2019.

       Through the COP26 Energy Transition Council, we will bring together energy ministers, leaders of multilateral development banks, and heads of expert agencies to accelerate the transition to clean power.  Together we will work to ensure that for every country considering new power generation, clean power is the most attractive option.  We will also strengthen our support – through development assistance, climate finance, and the sharing of expertise – to help the most coal-dependent communities to achieve a just transition.


Clean Road Transport


       The growth of the global market in zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) is outpacing expectations, and some estimates project that they will make up over 50% of all new car sales by 2040. However, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, 100% of new car sales need to be zero emission by then. In other words, we need to double the pace of the global transition to zero emission vehicles.

       Governments can support this goal by requiring all new cars sold within their markets to be zero emission by 2040 or earlier.  Vehicle manufacturers can commit to making all the cars they sell zero emission by this time.  Businesses that own large vehicle fleets can contribute by committing to buy only zero emission vehicles, and by joining the EV100 initiative. 

       By working together to grow the market for zero emission vehicles, we can scale up their production and bring down their costs more quickly.  We will use our Presidency to bring together governments of the world’s largest car markets, as well as leading manufacturers and civil society experts, to agree coordinated action to accelerate the global transition.




       The long-term transition to a net-zero and resilient future requires trillions of dollars of investment and an unprecedented shift in the global financial system.

       This transition presents immense economic and development opportunities, yet today there is a huge gap between the needs and actual finance flows. This is felt most in developing countries, particularly those vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  Channelling the finance needed to enable and accelerate this transition will require collective global action across the public and private sectors.

       Our COP26 priorities for public finance reflect the key challenges raised during extensive consultation with parties, and highlights the action required by all stakeholders to address concerns about the quantity, quality, responsiveness, and impact of international climate finance.

       Donors must provide clarity about how they will collectively meet and surpass the goal of mobilising $100bn a year for developing countries. The Prime Minister has announced plans to double UK international climate finance to £11.6bn over 2021-2025.

       Multilateral and Public Development Banks, Development Finance Institutions, multilateral climate funds, the IMF, central banks, and financial regulatory bodies, must all play a critical role. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to make collective progress.

       Meeting and exceeding the $100bn target is essential but will not be enough to deliver the trillions needed. Whilst private finance is not a substitute for increased public finance, it will be vital in increasing the scale and reach of climate action and enabling the transition.


Climate & Development Ministerial


On 31st March, the UK hosted the Climate and Development Ministerial, which brought together recipients, donors, institutions, and civil society. The Ministerial aimed to tangibly link the concerns of climate vulnerable countries to actions and outcomes agreed by recipients, donors, and institutions.


We heard from climate vulnerable countries on challenges relating to access to finance, responses to climate impacts, quantity, quality and composition of finance, and fiscal space and debt sustainability. The C&DM demonstrated that there is much that countries and institutions can do to shift the debate and make meaningful progress on tangible global issues. CPD emphasised the importance of partners delivering practical solutions. The Chair’s Summary and the 2021 Climate & Development Pathway published after the event, will be key tool to move work forward and hold ourselves and others to account on the road to COP26.


Inclusivity of COP26 Presidency


We will champion inclusivity throughout our COP Presidency and use our position as President to amplify the voices and solutions of women, girls, and those whose views are often most marginalised, empowering them as decision-makers, advocates, and leaders. We will prioritise addressing their needs and priorities in the run up to, and at the COP itself.


Existing inequalities exacerbate the impacts of climate change for individuals and communities, limiting their resilience whilst constraining their options to act. This includes but is not limited to those living in poverty, women and girls, people with disabilities, youth, indigenous and marginalised groups, in particular those facing multiple exclusions based of their race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief or other characteristics.


The COP President Designate has established a number of ​advisory groups​ to guide our planning and delivery of COP:


We are committed to ensuring ​women and girls​, particularly women from parts of the world that are most affected by climate change can express their priorities and concerns on an equal basis and our plans build on a strong track record of encouraging and enabling an inclusive approach to climate action.


The UK’s plans for COP26 inclusion build on a strong track record of encouraging and enabling an inclusive approach to climate action through gender-targeted climate finance programmes like the UNDP’s Climate Finance Network, supporting specific inclusion initiatives and through regular outreach with representatives from a wide range of civil society organisations.




The youth voice is a powerful catalyst for change and is vital for the future of our planet and for the success of COP26 in November. We are working with our Italian partners on the pre-COP event, and the Youth 4 Climate 2021: Driving Ambition event held in Milan this September ahead of COP26. The Youth4Climate event will bring together 400 young people from across the world, culminating in a discussion with Ministers.


The Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council has been established to support our COP preparations and to ensure we deliver an inclusive COP. These are co-chaired between COP President Designate and a youth activist. In November last year, 350 young people from over 150 countries held their own virtual, Mock COP. COP President Designate was pleased to take part in the opening ceremony and most recently met with them to learn about the outcomes of their event.


The UK COP26 Presidency is endorsing YOUNGO’s Conference of Youth event held in Glasgow this October - a key moment in the youth climate activism calendar.


COP 26 (event)


We wish to create a safe, secure, sustainable and inclusive COP26 that sets the conditions for outstanding policy outcomes, leaves a lasting legacy of change in the UK, and allows Glasgow to flourish as the host city, whilst representing value for money for the UK taxpayer. We are working tirelessly to deliver a safe and successful COP26 in Glasgow this November and want to be able to hold this in-person. As hosts, we recognise how urgently the world must come together to agree action to tackle climate change.


We are working closely with our public health officials, Scottish Government, all our partners and the UNFCCC exploring how we can have an in-person event to enable relevant delegates to participate on an equal footing, while also using technology to make the summit as inclusive as possible. The Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow will be the venue for the main COP26 summit (the ‘Blue Zone’), managed by the UNFCCC and where the formal negotiations take place, and the Glasgow Science Centre will host the public engagement space managed by us as Presidency (the ‘Green Zone’).


FCDO Role in COP26 Preparations


Mobilising the International Network


Climate change is a top priority for all our Heads of Mission and their teams. The COP26 Unit and our Heads of Mission are supported in their climate work by four senior COP26 Regional Ambassadors, and our overseas network of Climate, Energy and Environment Attachés, which numbers around 462 UK diplomatic staff and Country Based Staff (190 Full Time Equivalents).


The network brings together the former FCO-BEIS Climate & Energy Attachés network and the former DFID Climate Adviser network. There are both in-country experts, and regional advisors. The network plays a key role interacting with government, business, civil society, and other organisations overseas and helping deliver our objectives. The Foreign Secretary, FCDO ministers, senior officials and our Embassies and High Commissions around the world have embedded climate into their international engagement. Minister Trevelyan has a shared portfolio, although a BEIS Minister, is also the International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience, and in this role champions the agenda through engagements directly with countries, both virtually, and now in person. Her work directly supports the A&R campaign, but also the wider COP26 efforts on tackling climate change.


We are fully using our IT systems to ensure that the diplomatic network has easy access to all COP26 resources, including communications and protocol/logistics material. Within this framework the FCDO and other key actors in Government can readily access the overseas network to help deliver key COP26 objectives and campaigns.



Delivering on Goals



The FCDO leads on the Adaptation and Resilience campaign, working closely with the COP Unit to deliver a high ambition, and impactful, campaign of initiatives to deliver real change on the ground, and support the negotiations process.


We also play a major role in support of the other goals. We will deliver these objectives through a major international engagement programme utilising all the resources available across the organisation and HMG. For example, on nature, we will encourage countries to re-orientate agricultural policies in favour of the environment and will continue to work with producer and consumer countries to clean up global commodity supply chains.


Across all goals, we are using our global network, the deployment of UK ODA, our seat on the boards of the Multi Development Banks (MDB) and our wider voice in the international system, for example the Prime Minister-led UN Security Council Debate on Climate and Security, to deliver on the COP26 goals.


Maintaining Momentum & COP26 Legacy


A critical step under the Government’s Integrated Review was to clearly state that, “addressing climate change and biodiversity loss will remain the UK’s number one international priority in 2021, and beyond”. We are committed to keeping climate action at the heart of our stance, internationally, into the long term, and evolving our strategy to reflect this commitment.


The UK’s Presidency of COP runs until November 2022, when COP27 will be hosted by an African nation. The UK will continue to use multilateral and bilateral forums to help ensure that goals are met and progressed and to make the most of a genuine green recovery from the economic challenges brought about by Covid-19 globally.


The Prime Minister committed to a doubling of UK ICF to £11.6bn between 2021/22 and 2025/26 in September 2019 and this commitment was reiterated in the 2020 spending review and in HMG’s Integrated Review. We are in the process of integrating climate and biodiversity as a priority throughout the FCDO’s work.


Supporting this vision beyond 2021, the FCDO’s network of climate, energy and environment attachés and advisers is world leading and remains the FCDO’s largest thematic network. We are aiming to revise and strengthen the system of accreditation to the professional body of technical advisers spanning climate, energy, and environment. We will continue to boost our existing capability on climate, energy, and environment by building the knowledge and skills of our wider diplomatic network through the formal learning structure offered by the International Academy (FCDO’s flagship learning and development hub) and by a wider learning and development offer.