Scotland welcomed the countries of the world with windy but dry weather. The previous day, a severe storm in southern England had disrupted travel to Glasgow for many delegates, with many trees down and power outages, and reminding them of the impacts of more severe weather events due to climate change.
COP26 started with the World Leaders' Summit. Great speeches were made by many leaders of countries, in eloquent ways, conveying powerful messages certainly. The UK Prime Minister welcomed all leaders, made the analogy to James Bond trying to disarm a doomsday machine, and interestingly referred to James Watt harnessing the power of steam around 200 years ago in this very city, thus starting the industrial revolution right here. President Biden's speech included reference to carbon capture and the jobs it will bring in its development and construction, and the 'marathon' of getting to net zero.
Interesting and thought-provoking introductions were also made by youth representatives, by Professor Brian Cox, and by Sir David Attenborough, emphasising that we are 'breaking' the stability of the climate which has enabled human civilisation to develop over the last 10,000 years.
Away from the high-profile plenary, the serious work was starting in SBSTA and SBI meetings, including on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, where it is hoped that this COP will agree and conclude these frameworks for international cooperation to enable carbon trading between countries. We hope the frameworks and rules remain technology neutral, as well as having accounting and environmental integrity.
On the first day the corridors and pavilions inside the Blue Zone already felt crowded, with significant queues for some services, and will only get busier as the week progresses. It reminds me of COP15 in Copenhagen, which got too crowded (and led to restrictions on delegate numbers being introduced).
On the first day, the Global CCS Institute, South Pole and TNO organised a side-event in the EU Pavilion (online, 17:30-18:30) on Carbon Reduction and Removal Technologies. This focussed on CCS and CDR for Europe, why they are needed, how they can be scaled up, and barriers and opportunities. Panellists were from the Global CCS Institute (as moderator), South Pole, the CarbFix and Acorn projects, and myself from IEAGHG. I found it particularly interesting to consider these topics for CDR, having been a member of the recent UK government Task Group, and very constructive to have project representatives sharing their experiences, as well as sharing views from carbon accounting and voluntary carbon market perspectives. A recording is available at European Union side events at COP26 (cop26eusideevents.eu) .
IEAGHG is next speaking in the IPIECA event "Contributing to a Net-Zero Future", on the 4th November at 10:30-12:00 in the IETA Pavilion, and then at the Global CCS Institute's "Reaching Climate Neutrality: Carbon Capture and Storage in the Green Transition" on the 9th November at 10:30 -12:00 in the IETA Pavilion. Our own UNFCCC Side-event with our collaborators The University of Texas, CCSA, the International CCS Knowledge Centre, and Bellona, is on "Carbon Capture and Storage – Accelerating Decarbonisation of Industries in Non-Annex 1 and Annex 1 Countries" and will be on the 11th November at 11:30-12:45 in the UNFCCC Blue Zone, Skomer room (Multimedia Studio 2).
Here is to a busy and hopefully productive COP. For more CCS events at COP26 see our CCUS-related events at COP26 page.
2 November 2021