COP sessions could be live-streamed to promote transparency and ensure that national leaders have to tell the same story on the conference steps that they did during negotiating sessions, suggested Michael Grove MP, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Grove was speaking at a ‘Countdown to COP’ meeting organised by the Green Alliance, where he highlighted the role of ‘citizen action’ in providing a nudge to politicians to act. Saying that ‘advocacy in the streets’ showed public “anxiety, anger and desire for change,” he said the COP should find a way to “invite citizens in” and get better at holding countries to account.
Conscious that COP 26, to be held in Glasgow from 9 November, would be just ten days after a US presidential election that could see President Donald Trump back in office for a second term, hosting the meeting was described as ‘high risk, high reward’ for the UK.
One way of delivering real change was harnessing other interested parties such as cities, regions or states below national level, the meeting heard. That combination would reach a ‘tipping point’ for action, gaining momentum and putting pressure on national governments from below, the conference heard. Such tipping points might be reached with more than half of a country’s GDP involved, it was suggested, but others thought even less leverage was effective. One noted that in markets a change by 10% of participants was enough to tip the whole. Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100, the local authority climate organisation, noted that her 96 members could help set a course for more than 400 local authorities in the UK. That also brought civil society into play, it was noted.
Other key elements in making it successful included action now that would put the UK on track to meet its current climate goals, the conference heard. The UK’s climate act and net zero legislation had given the UK credibility ‘in the room’ during negotiations, but it had to be backed up by delivery, delegates heard.