Posted in: 11/01/2021
Synergia accompanied COP26 – the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, and shared key information here on this page. The most relevant events and the daily discussions of the conference were reported by Luiz Eduardo Rielli , our sustainability consultant, who attended the event in person in Glasgow, Scotland, and Ricardo Young , a member of Synergia’s advisory board.
They brought their insights on COP26 issues based on topics relevant to Synergia, such as employability, gender and diversity, development of the “Global South”, resilience and adaptation of communities.
COP26 is the world’s most important annual conference on climate issues. It brings together world leaders to define global strategies to combat climate change and to prevent disasters linked to them, which cause thousands of deaths, forced immigration and great social and economic damage.
This year (2021), the conference took place from October 31 to November 12, and focused on updating the plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, made by the countries participating in the Paris Agreement, in 2015. Related topics to human rights, social inequality and support for the poorest countries were also on the agenda.
Check out the complete analysis of COP26, carried out by Luiz Eduardo Rielli, our sustainability consultant, and Alexandre Araújo, Synergia’s strategic sustainability advisor.
At this meeting, held on 11/17/21, Rielli presented his perspectives on COP26 to Synergia employees, the consequences of the conference, and also, together with Alexandre, answered questions from participants about the main topics addressed:
Knowing the results and perspectives of this important event is a way of expanding your knowledge about the new pacts drawn up to curb climate change and achieve universal sustainability goals, issues that are so important today. Then watch the video!
Check out the full analysis of COP26.
Some questions about COP26 and Synergia’s participation were left for Luiz Rielli to answer later. Check below the questions asked by the participants, divided by theme, and the answers of our consultant.
The debt issue was widely debated, especially by African countries, but also by international organizations such as the OECD and the IMF. The central point is that less developed countries do not have the fiscal space to obtain new lines of finance for the required low-carbon transitions. That is, even if there were financial flows, these countries would not be able to use these resources. There were no final conclusions on this topic. Still in negotiation. The figure of US$100bn/year should be reached by 2023, according to World Bank estimates. The financial flow is still far below what is needed to leverage low carbon transitions and the effects of climate change in most countries in the world.
The issue of climate refugees is not a formal issue in the negotiations. However, it is inherent to other topics that were much debated – loss & damage; adaptation; financing. I didn’t have much contact about reception strategies in official conversations. Something to be explored.
Relations between China and the United States are at their most tense point, with the Biden administration’s focus on the Asia-Pacific military alliance. It is evident that the axis of dispute and global power is in this region. As a result, very little was expected from China-US relations. This is also why the Chinese president did not go to COP26. Finally, there was a joint statement: “We have many differences, but in terms of climate, cooperation is the only way to get this job done”. Check out the joint US-China statement .
Regarding the methane commitment, Brazil has not assumed additional commitments. Read the official note with the Brazilian position on reducing methane emissions and declaring forests and land use.
Personally, the general feeling is one of shock, dissatisfaction and pity.
Certainly, the image of Brazil is directly associated with the Amazon. Not just at COP26. In any conversation abroad, the question is “When will Brazil stop cutting down the forest?”. Specifically, diplomats from Gabon, Portugal and Colombia asked me this question. The pressure to control deforestation is on financing and purchases. Governments don’t want to transfer resources without strong governance, controls and transparency. The demands had already been made by the donors of projects in the Amazon: Germany, Norway, USA, etc. New funding commitments were made directly involving communities and local governments. The current Brazilian government disregards these actors.
On the side of formal negotiations, the messages were veiled, but always brought to the table clearly as a critical element. On the other hand, the position of the Brazilian federal government can be summarized by the speech of a high authority: “we must resume narratives. Don’t let the country just catch up”. In my opinion, it is an innocuous position. It only serves to cheer up a small group of followers in the domestic context of Brazil. The international community is clear about the facts that are taking place in Brazil.
Remembering that international agreements only become binding in Brazilian legislation after approval by Congress. Brazil already has the Climate Policy and its commitments (NDCs) are already in legislation. The new commitments are also foreseen in normative mechanisms. The problem, to a large extent, is one of implementation, articulation and political priority, budget allocation.
Brazil has always been in a very favorable position in terms of climate. Obviously, for its natural richness and for an electrical matrix fundamentally from renewable sources. This does not mean that the country should understand that it should not pursue its own transition to a low-carbon economy. Opportunities will come from biofuels, biomass, environmental assets, foods that have low impact. In the context of the COP, the world sees Brazil as a provider of food, natural resources and the guarantee of climate balance with the maintenance of the forest standing.
In this sense, Synergia will have opportunities linked to better governance, transparency, controls and traceability of projects and global supply chains. It will also be able to contribute with strategies, plans, articulations, engagements. This could be based on territorial development models, socio-environmental intelligence using data, among others. Finally, it will be able to leverage its knowledge and skills towards the development of people and communities that contribute to the global climate challenge. It is a path that needs to have a mature vision and a well-defined plan.
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
COP26: advances or failures?
At this moment, 26 meetings of the countries that are part of the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change have officially concluded. At the end of all these meetings, the question that circulates among the corridors, the press and interest groups associated with the climate agenda is: what’s up? Did COP26 make progress or setbacks? What does this change for Brazil? Perhaps due to the complexity and scope of the agendas, the understanding of what happened in this great international meeting needs to be evaluated with caution and from different perspectives.
In order to carry out this analysis, it is important to understand the climate negotiations within a larger context of international relations and the internal policies of its main actors. In this sense, the moment in President Biden’s American agenda, Build Back Better , is positive , considering the American economic recovery based on a low-carbon model – and Europe, with its Ecological Pact. On the other hand, the absence of the decisive political weight of China and Brazil made an even more comprehensive agreement difficult. Other relevant actors such as India, South Africa, Australia and Middle East countries, with societies dependent on fossil fuels, seek compensatory positions and gradual transitions.
John Kerry, government envoy Joe Biden, and Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, talk during the Yves Herman conference – 12.Nov.2021 Credit: ReutersMAIS Image source: Folha .
It is also essential to understand COP26 within a larger cycle of debates, meetings and negotiations, currently under the presidency of the United Kingdom. This is because what was decided in Glasgow had already been discussed previously by each country internally and in meetings such as the G7 and the G20. The mandates, positions and commitments were already given, to a large extent. In this sense, it can be said that the United Kingdom made a great effort for the face-to-face meeting in Glasgow to take place both in terms of financial, logistical investments (ensuring everyone’s health in the context of COVID19) and, above all, political. It can be said that the role of the United Kingdom in resuming the Paris Agreement and giving pace to its commitments and ambitions was fundamental. The analogy used in the meetings is that in this “journey” towards a low-carbon world,
What increased the pressure on COP26 – and is key to evaluating its outcomes – was new evidence and scientific reports. The 6th IPCC report – a scientific panel that consolidates climate science consensus – indicated, with greater certainty, the origins of climate change and, mainly, its effects on climate subsystems and natural dynamics. The urgency of actions was put on the table. The “window of time” for real measures to be taken is running out if we are to avoid the brutal and unknown consequences of climate change.
As this article is being written, analysts around the world are poring over the final documents that have just been made available, reviewing every paragraph of the 7 big issues that were under negotiation. Briefly, here are some reviews:
Many are the topics that were intensely debated, such as, for example, the end of deforestation, climate finance, the US$100 billion/year fund, loss & damage, adaptation, the new carbon market (Art. 6 of the Paris Agreement). There are certainly advances – as in the theme of forests and the carbon market – and frustrations – as in loss&damage and climate financing.
Glasgow has had ups and downs. The UK presidency has given new impetus to the climate negotiations and mobilized actors from around the world back to the climate urgency. New commitments were offered. New actions were announced. However, although Glasgow has offered a lot, it should have gone further. This is definitely the decade of real measures and rapid implementation and it seems that we still do not have a sufficient package of actions. Finally, there are doubts whether the next meetings, in Egypt and in the United Arab Emirates, will be able to further leverage actions and commitments.
By Ricardo Young
Asymmetry between ambition and inaction
There is no doubt that at the close of COP26 the world is duly aware of the catastrophe that global warming will bring to life on the planet. At the plenary meeting held today, the last day of the event, to analyze the second draft of the final report, there were many passionate speeches by delegates with dramatic appeals not to abandon the Paris Agreement’s goal of maintaining the heating by a maximum of 1.5°C. And this concern was not without reason: the sum of the new NDCs (National Determined Contributions) presented by the countries still added emissions that would raise the temperature to 2.4º C.
In addition to mitigation efforts, awareness of the costs of adaptation and the devastating effects of extreme weather events on the most vulnerable countries sparked greater concern in bloc 77+China (bloc of developing countries that together have more than 80% of the population world) that the resources promised and increased by developed countries to these countries for adaptation seemed more like consolation prizes to compensate them. The expectation is that these resources will serve, above all, to accelerate the adaptation and transition capacity of these countries to the decarbonized economy.
“Fridays for Future” movement (stock photo Shutterstock.com)
While the mention of human rights, of future generations and the threat of the disappearance of entire nations and their legacies might just seem like a dramatic statement when the representative of Tuvalu said that his country was literally submerged under the waves (despite being small and with less than 20,000 inhabitants, Tuvalu is about to swell the statistics of hundreds of thousands of potential climate refugees if nothing is done), European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermmans said that by 2050 his one-year-old grandson would be desperately fighting the race for food and water, brandishing his cell phone with the boy’s picture on it. The plenary, amidst applause and perplexity, was stunned.
It was a tense meeting where, despite good will, support for the multilateral system, the reaffirmation of the Paris Agreement, several delegates raised the asymmetry between intentions and commitments, between ambition and action.
The main points addressed, and where consensus is difficult, are related to:
1) Frequency of revision of NDCs. The Paris Agreement provided for a 5-year interval for reviewing the targets. Faced with insufficient aggregate ambition, the proposal is that the NDCs be reviewed annually.
2) Compensation for loss and damage and adaptation costs for the most vulnerable countries. The 77-nation bloc, including China, believes richer countries have a moral duty to compensate them for being the ones to benefit from carbon-based growth. In addition to the already agreed $100 billion in annual aid, an additional amount will be added to this amount and there is concern about when and how these resources will be transferred to these countries.
3) The famous Article 6 of the Paris Agreement should finally be regulated, but there is a concern that the carbon market becomes a subterfuge for emitting countries to continue using it as a pretext, with the risk of trivializing it as a one of the most powerful tools for regulating emissions and preventing developing countries from increasing their emissions.
4) The way of reporting and measuring the carbon emitted by countries, the need for its standardization so that emissions are not underestimated or defrauded.
In addition to these points, it is considered that the second version of the document being discussed this Friday was lenient with the initial targets, which were tougher with fossil fuels. From the proposal for progressive elimination accompanied by reduction targets, the document brought the concept of emission reduction, more efficient use of these fuels and elimination of subsidies to less efficient ones. The influence of the powerful lobby of coal and oil producers is suspected here.
Other aspects of the document provide encouragement for the future: greater financial commitment by countries to adaptation beyond mitigation; greater public and private global effort with resources for the energy transition, for technologies and decarbonization projects; periodic review of emission targets and greater international collaboration to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
We cannot say that Glasgow failed, but it does not leave the expected historical mark. The difficulty for countries to fix the future of the planet, at the same time as they need to make politically and economically costly domestic adjustments, creates a fissure between ambition and the objective capacity to act on the expected scale.
Perhaps it is time for national leaders to assume greater global responsibility and understand that the Greta generation is the one that will increasingly dictate the rules of the streets, demonstrations, social networks with a worldwide presence. Global civil society will represent an additional dimension to the challenge of multilateral and national governance, with as-yet-unforeseeable political implications.
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Cities, regions and buildings on the agenda
Today, the day here at COP26 was guided by Cities, Regions and Buildings, a very important theme, which starts from both the approach of communities and governments.
The approach taken by communities and localities considers what people and their groups can do in their territories to adapt to the consequences of climate change and to prevent it from occurring. We are talking about community organization projects, local low-impact construction technology and construction projects, for example.
Another, more complex approach concerns the organization of countries and regions as a whole, such as major urban planning, financing for new types of construction, and so on.
An interesting aspect also when talking about Cities and Buildings is the theme of adaptation, because most of the infrastructure in rich countries, and also in developing countries, was not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change.
I’ll give you an example: most of the Brazilian infrastructure dates back to the second half of the 20th century, when the big cities started to grow. Poles, bridges and streets were not made for large extreme events. If a pole was technically made to withstand winds of 50 km per hour, for example, what will happen if we have more significant extreme events, with winds above 60, 70 or 80 km per hour?
So, the big topic of discussion for the cities was the issue of adaptation. Many of the adapting cities are looking at both infrastructure and prevention. That is great.
Finally, on the theme of Buildings, the approach was very technological here at COP26, especially with regard to new construction methods, new materials, new structures. A good example is structural wood-based construction, something unheard of 10 years ago. Today, in many rich countries, such as in northern Europe, buildings with up to 20 floors built of wood already exist.
Also new materials, such as bio-bricks from waste or recycled materials, were much discussed as a solution for buildings beyond the issue of energy efficiency. After all, a big question is how to transform people’s homes and buildings into low-energy housing, especially in countries with intense cold.
In summary, today was an important day with discussions and solutions coming from both ends: governments and societies.
Check out Rielli’s report on how climate change will affect people living in urban environments.
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Speed and innovation drive conversations
We are concluding the 10th day of the COP26 and this is the moment when the conclusions, the final documents, begin to funnel. Specifically, the subgroups and working groups begin to deliver their proposals to conclude in a final text.
There are seven subgroups of great importance for the climate future and each of them will have its guiding document on:
Some advances were made in each of the subgroups, but the general feeling is that we must have more ambition and speed for actions. The big motto is to achieve speed in the implementation of projects. That’s what everyone is talking about here: do more, do it faster. This applies to today’s topic, transport, but also to all other topics.
Another strong message is that everyone agrees with the sense of urgency and that it is necessary to have actions aligned with science. It is commented in all the conversation circles, and also in the different sessions, that it is necessary to act and, in parallel, to seek more innovation.
This is very important, especially for the private sector, as it generates business opportunities and new projects. We saw new funds being presented by rich countries, being an opportunity for new activities for countries like Brazil.
Check out in today’s video, Rielli’s report on the subject of transport and the end of the combustion car.
By Ricardo Young
Cop 26 and the new way of doing business
It is not new that the global business community has been trying to respond, with a new business model, to the successive pressures it has received from various sectors of society. Since the emblematic statement by Larry Fink, in 2019, in which he emphatically signals that the financial market should invest primarily in ESG companies, several other events have joined this call.
The Davos Forum, in 2020 and 2021, brought talk of a new beginning, of what would be ‘the end of shareholder capitalism for the beginning of stakeholder capitalism’, in the words of its founder, Klaus Schwab; the NY Business Roundtable, which brings together the main US CEOs, followed in the same direction; the launch of the European Ecological Pact, other agreements and various manifestations made the ESG concept come to have an enormous centrality in markets, conferences, business schools and corporate entities.
However, the ESG concept is not for amateurs. It emerges in its S dimension in the early 1990s, acquires its E dimension during the 2000s and its G dimension from the second half of the 2010s.
Therefore, skills and competences in the social, environmental and governance areas are born relatively independently. But they assume their systemic form at the end of 2019, and their absolute centrality now, at COP 26.
If the acronym ESG represents the necessary response to the formidable changes required by climate challenges, its understanding redefines the very concept of what entrepreneurship means.
The document released on Tuesday by the Ethos Institute and several companies, at the event Raising the Ambition of the Brazilian NDC and the paths to decarbonization for Brazil, held at COP26, clearly shows what are the inflections necessary for the traditional management culture. It is not about better compliance, or GRI-type indicators, or even private social investments, inclusion and diversity.
This is a new business mentality, where the centrality becomes the generation of measurable values for all stakeholders with materiality, multiple systemic indicators, assessment of impact on the value chain, dialogued engagement and differential of employees and all the parties involved. Traditional concepts such as KPIs, Capex, EBIDTA, IRR, Dashboards, bonus policies, strategic planning and other very important tools will now have to incorporate the new dimensions of management.
The document released, entitled Business Proposals and Recommendations for the Brazilian NDC, establishes business commitments, such as:
· guarantee the traceability of the production chains and ensure the transparency of the impacts of its activities on society;
· adopt corporate policies and business management plans that promote mitigation and adaptation to climate change in its direct operations and in its chains;
· adopt corporate policies and business management plans that promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity;
· incorporate human rights guidelines into corporate policies and practices, linking them to quality of life and the right to environmental well-being, and several others, including advocacy guidelines and advocacy on public policies.
Several companies have adhered to this document and many more will do so. And that will mean a revolution in the traditional management of organizations.
At least some of the companies present at the event agree with this. Paulo Pianez, from Marfrig, Denise Hills, from Natura, and Lucia Rodrigues, from Microsoft, demonstrated how they are applying these principles and how their companies are beginning to be a reference in ESG management – that is to say, sustainable management – so that they can not only have focus on changes, but which can also lead to a new mentality in doing business.
This competence will define who stays and who leaves this new market.
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Gender diversity, science and innovation were today’s agenda
Check out today’s video!
By Ricardo Young
A possible new citizenship? Another citizenship cannot be postponed!
This week in Glasgow began with a feeling of unease, a generalized shadow hovering over the results of this Conference, key to the future of life on the planet.
On the one hand, and despite the optimistic declarations of the delegates representing the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement, the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) added so far, still do not guarantee the reduction of global warming by 1.5 ºC by the end from the __ century. On the contrary, they point to a warming of around 2.7 ºC, bringing pessimistic perspectives for the week. On the other hand, it was for no other reason that Greta Thunberg started, as early as Friday, demonstrations that brought together thousands of young people around the world, proclaiming the failure of the Conference. The generation ‘looted’ of their future rights, decided to radicalize them in the present denouncing what would be “a failure” in their own words.
The tendency for declarations given by heads of state and their representatives to have a more political objective rather than real commitments has been known at COPs since time immemorial. In general, they speak to domestic audiences and not necessarily to the world. This explains, among other causes, the slowness with which decisions are taken. Back and forth, discontinuity in the alternation of opposing mandates, crises of all kinds, denialism and other reasons have postponed decisions and policies now evident as unavoidable. The youth know this and are not in the mood for stalling, postponement and political greenwashing . The hour is serious and the scrutiny of the new generations will be increasingly relentless.
Greta Thunberg leads the demonstration that brought together thousands of young people during COP26. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
However, the climate crisis imposes a reflection on which democracy we need and which citizenship we should exercise. What democracy are we really talking about?
Democracy in its modern form, from the post-war period until today, has been a space of plurality, dispute over rights, clash of social and economic classes, demands, ideological dispute, political dispute and an incessant search for freedom, for equality , for the right to exist and be the subject of its own history. Well then, with steps forward and setbacks, we arrive at the present civilization which, when looking at the last IPCC report, reveals itself in the barbarity committed against life and against the planet. Is it a crisis of the political model, of the capitalist model, an exhaustion in the end, of democracy itself?
In my view, no. It is a crisis of paradigm, of world view, of systemic perception. Sustainability presupposes diversity, transversality, interdisciplinarity. But it also presupposes collaboration, interactivity, interdependence, network intelligence and complex vision. Therefore, the democracy that the era of sustainability calls for has other adjectives: it is no longer about the clash, the dispute for supremacy, competition, meritocracy, the law of the fittest, but rather collaboration, solidarity, regeneration, of the restoration economy, renouncing consumerism, valuing diversity, equity, science and knowledge at the service of the whole.
There will be no sustainable development possible without social inclusion, with widespread poverty, without dignity and deep respect for all forms of life, as the Earth Charter stated more than two decades ago. Democracy as we know it so far has failed in its promise to promote fraternity, not only in its anthropocentric form, but with all forms of life as well, each one bringing its own contribution to the web of life on the planet.
Present generations begin to exercise the democracy we need from now on. No ’empty and polluting words’! Commitment, transparency and consequence are the new watchwords. Fraternity as a guarantee of equality and freedom. As Amartya Sen said, the function of development is freedom! There will be no democracy without sustainability. And sustainable development, in turn, presupposes the radicalization of democratic values. Is another citizenship possible? Another citizenship cannot be postponed!
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Understanding this international mega event
The COP, Conference of the Parties, can now be considered an international mega-event. Just as major international events – the Expos, Olympics or Rio+20 itself – bring together individuals from all over the planet, with their worldviews, cultures and expectations regarding the topic under debate. Politicians, activists, celebrities, businessmen, religious leaders pass through the halls, exhibitions and auditoriums building paths based on a pre-defined minimum agenda.
Face-to-face meetings are essential for exchanges, establishing connections and consolidating empathy for the challenges of peoples and their places. In the words of COP26 President Alok Sharma, “the UK made a huge effort to have the meeting take place in person, with delegates able to have eye-to-eye conversations and move forward in the negotiations.”
The efforts translate into a lot of organization and high investments in connectivity, considering the restrictions and health risks that COVID-19 still poses. COP26 is the UN’s biggest international face-to-face event since the start of the pandemic, and so much is still being learned in terms of safety for visitors and Glasgow residents alike. In that sense, only the essentials have been authorized.
In terms of structure, Glasgow events are grouped into three categories:
1. The Blue Zone: is the area where official negotiations take place, under the authority and security of the United Nations. Only accredited delegates can access.
2. The Green Zone: is the official space open to the public. More than 200 events and 100 exhibitions are planned. You can access the content live on the COP 26 YouTube channel .
3. Parallel events (fringe events): everything that occurs in parallel, outside the official schedule. There are hundreds of meetings, which can be seen on the Climate Fringe website and on the Holyrood Events website .
4. The marches and demonstrations are being followed by the COP26 Coalition website .
Apart from the few negotiators representing the countries, most accredited participants for COP26 circulate through the parallel spaces of countries and international organizations (eg World Bank, International Energy Agency). There is a strong risk that many participants do not have a well-defined agenda and the trip to COP26 becomes a catwalk for relationships. Although valid, the environmental impacts of a mega-event are enormous and should be avoided.
Prince Charles, center, alongside Brazilian governors and members of entourages
during a meeting at COP26, in Glasgow. (Credit: Tina Norris/Disclosure)
By Ricardo Young
Brazil can regain lost protagonism
The meeting in which the governors and their representatives, from 24 Brazilian states, had with Prince Charles gives us a very important signal. One of the major discussions during this COP is the mobilization of the private sector for investments. And we all know that Prince Charles has been a leading figure in green investment funds.
When we see most of the governors and the prince gathered, we have two very powerful elements: on the one hand, the strength of subnational governments, that is, the green agenda will not depend only on the Federal Government. As we have already observed, the Coalition of Governors for the Climate has grown a lot and now has a leading role, its own identity and direct dialogue with state representatives and investor representatives. On the other hand, Prince Charles, even though he is not a state representative, is an extremely symbolic presence, as he channels and maintains dialogue with many world-class investors, in addition to the symbolic aspect of being part of the British royal family.
What we can see is that the Coalition of Governors is starting to have powerful dialogues. This means that, once Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is regulated in Glasgow, we will see billions of resources flowing into green investments in the most diverse forms; from green bonds , which are very affordable and interesting loan lines from the point of view of interest rates and opportunity, passing through investment funds in carbon compensation, voluntary carbon market, and carbon capture and landfill projects. This flow of new investments will have increasing impacts on many economic activities, such as infrastructure, reforestation, environmental services, clean energy, circular economy and technological innovation in sustainability, just to name a few.
So, we are at a time when Brazilian companies and multinationals located here need to be prepared, as we may be facing a sui generis situation , where the supply of resources may be greater than the demand capacity in the emerging green economy. We are seeing new governmental interlocutors other than the Federal, important funds – and the presence of Prince Charles gives great strength to this idea – in addition to the already announced mobilization of billions from the private sector, for the area of forests. We need to prepare!
It is time for Brazil to prepare itself because we can, yes, this time take a huge leap forward and make up for the delay of ten years, where the country not only walked sideways, but also decapitalized environmentally as an environmental power.
We already see some important Brazilian business leaders taking a bolder position in this regard. One example, coming from Brazil, is the president of JBS, Gilberto Tomazoni, who not only favored the agreement to reduce methane gas emissions (a gas heavily emitted by the enteric fermentation of cattle), but has also been establishing new partnerships to neutralize the gas in herds, through nutritional supplements. This brings us optimism, as it represents an inspiration for other leaders to take the initiative and seize the opportunity, rather than denying or delaying the irreversibility of these changes.
At the global level, the ten largest producers of agricultural commodities , whose combined revenues amount to nearly US$500 billion, have signed a shared commitment to stem the loss of forests associated with their production and trade.
They recognize that progress so far is commendable, but must be accelerated and scaled up in order to support global efforts to achieve net zero emissions globally by 2050. enhanced supply chain action consistent with a 1.5°C path.
Write down the names of these ten executives, including three Brazilians, because by signing this commitment document you are taking a historic step towards the environment, a step that we hope to celebrate very soon. Are they:
Juan Luciano (ADM), Judiney Carvalho (Amaggi), Gregory Heckman (Bunge), David MacLennan (Cargill), Wei Dong (COFCO International), Franky Oesman Widjaja (Golden Agri-Resources), Gilberto Tomazoni (JBS), Michael Gelchie ( Louis Dreyfus Company), Marcos Mulina (Marfrig), Sunny Verghese (Olam International), David Mattiske (Viterra) and Kuok Khoon Hong (Wilmar International).
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
People based transitions
The transition to a low-carbon economy will certainly impact all industries and markets. As with any structural technological transition, there will be winners and losers. Just make a brief parallel to the past. The industrial revolution, for example, replaced animal traction and human power with steam machines, brutally increased the efficiency in the use of resources and the scale of production, but did it improve people’s working conditions?
Transitions bring new practices, with different routines, meanings and skills, but they do not necessarily improve the quality of life or the quality of the environment at the same time or for everyone. Effects on the system can cascade over time. In this sense, learning from the dynamics of the past and planning for interactions and effects seems wise at this time.
A recent report by the International Energy Agency, presented at COP26, brings this type of assessment and reinforces the concern that the transition to a low-carbon economy will only bring benefits if it puts people first. The message is unequivocal: new arrangements and agreements need to consider effects on employment, inclusion and access.
In the case of renewable energies, the report brings as a scenario the creation of direct jobs and in the chain as a whole (as shown in the figure below). This will happen in construction with retrofits and energy efficiency of buildings, in industry and in all other related sectors. This has also been the discourse of political leaders, as in the final speeches of US President Joe Biden: “I see the carbon transition as an opportunity for everyone. A transition that will create jobs.”
Figure – Employment growth in the renewable energies sector until 2030, considering scenarios of commitments (NDCs) already presented and in a Zero Net Emissions scenario. Source: IEA – World Energy Outlook 2021
The problem is that transitions accelerate displacement effects, that is, jobs created do not necessarily occur where jobs are lost. The same occurs in relation to the transfer of technologies, knowledge and skills. In this sense, governments, companies and civil society have a fundamental role to play in mitigating these imbalances.
It is clear that the low-carbon transition will also be a transition for people. Thus, it is necessary to understand these movements and prepare long-term plans and effective actions to prepare people and create opportunities. Give a push so that people and their communities can benefit from the transformations. It is also a good time to deal with structural inequalities such as, for example, the balance of women’s presence in new labor markets.
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Brazilian proposals to contain climate change
Presented in a recent official pronouncement by the Presidency of the Republic as ‘part of the solution and not of the problem’, Brazil arrives in Glasgow in a very contested and fragile position.
Since land use is the country’s main source of emissions, recent fires and deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado have reinforced concerns about the erosion of Brazil’s contributions to tackling climate change. According to a report by the NGO Observatório do Clima (1), the country increased greenhouse gas emissions by 9.5% in 2020, while many countries are on the opposite path.
Additionally, considering the commitments assumed before the UN (NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions), Brazil was the only one of the group of the largest world economies that increased its emissions. The signs of Brazilian efforts are clearly reversed.
Source: UNEP, 2021- Emissions Gap Report 2021 .
As mentioned yesterday in this bulletin, the government has rightly adopted a new posture in terms of institutional communication, relationships and actions. It is here that it is worth looking into and understanding what the country actually proposes. The actions presented so far are:
1. New Pact for the Protection of Forests – a major milestone in the negotiations, it seeks to contain forest deforestation. With more than 100 countries adhering, representing 85% of global forests, Brazil is a signatory and potential beneficiary.
2. National Plan for Green Growth – supposedly a set of programs and initiatives by the Brazilian Federal Government to leverage economic growth and employment, based on clean technologies and natural resources. Despite good intentions, what has been presented so far is quite vague, making it difficult to say what the real effect of this policy is.
Read the decree in full .
Check out the news about the launch of the National Green Growth Program .
3. New Climate Goal – the Ministry of the Environment presented a new climate goal, seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and neutralize carbon emissions by 2050. As the saying goes, ‘the devil lives in our details’. So far, it has not been defined on which base year this reduction will occur, and it is not possible to understand the real proposed contribution. According to the Climate Observatory, “If you wanted to present a commitment compatible with the Paris Agreement, the target should be at least 80% cut”.
4. Methane Reduction Plan – one of the letters presented by the US administration of President Biden, seeks to reduce methane emissions in oil and gas operations, especially in new investments. Brazil is one of the 100 countries that joined the plan.
Check out the US plan to reduce emissions .
By advancing in the implementation of these measures, Brazil can benefit and take advantage of new opportunities. There are still more days to go, but these are advances that COP26 will be able to account for.
Environment Minister Joaquim Lopes announces Brazil’s new climate targets at an event
held in Brasília and broadcast on screens at the country’s stand at COP26 (Credit: Disclosure/MMA)
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
Which agendas are relevant for Brazilian actors?
The climate negotiations continue to attract a lot of interest from Brazilian actors. Glasgow is no different. It is certainly one of the largest delegations of Brazilian representatives to a climate conference. It is difficult to specify the number of Brazilians present at the events but, as an example, more than 50 representatives from the private sector are expected to be linked to the Global Compact Brazilian Network alone.
To a large extent, Brazilian actors (businessmen, NGOs, local governments, young people) present at COP26 make a counterpoint to the Federal Government. After a period in which the Brazilian government noisily abdicated its role in the environmental agenda, it seems that it is silently seeking to restore relations. At this meeting, the Brazilian government has been trying to resume its environmental narratives and demonstrate that ‘it’s not as bad as it seems’. Thus, it takes more actions in communication (eg a Brazil Pavilion and communication pieces), in the diplomatic relationship (eg previous invitations to diplomatic representations) and in the offer of new commitments (eg carbon neutrality, end of deforestation of forests and reduction of methane emissions). These are commendable actions.
However, isolation and mistrust remain evident. It’s not just about differences in political positions or worldviews. In the words of a British diplomat, “how to sew an agreement with Brazil if words are not fulfilled?”. Trust and commitment are basic principles to move forward in any agreement.
It is in this context that civil society and local governments gained space, in the vacuum left by the federal government. If the Federal Government abdicated millions of resources from the Amazon Fund, the states and municipalities have been looking for ways to make effective the interest in international partnerships. World-class Brazilian companies and exporters seek to show that they are concerned and acting to reduce their environmental footprints, with controls in their supply chains. Youth and NGOs vocalize local abuses and challenges, reaching out to the international community for help. In other words, Brazil presents itself at COP26 far beyond the Federal Government.
By action or omission, Brazil went from being a leader to being ignored. The country that abdicated its place in the world as an ‘environmental powerhouse’ needs to resume an agenda of balance between development and preservation of its natural wealth. In this sense, Brazilian actors play a key role at COP26.
By Ricardo Young
A breath of life in the midst of hate
Txai, in the indigenous language of the Paiter Surui tribe, means ‘that part of me that lives in you; the part of you that lives in me’. And that was how the young woman Txai-Surui opened the Brazilian participation in the COP26 in Glasgow.
Like Svern Suzuki at Rio-92 or even Greta Thunberg at COP24 in Poland, Txai urged heads of state to put an end to “the pollution of empty words, empty lies and false promises”. But he brought another dimension to his short speech. He said that his people have lived in the Amazon for more than 6000 years and that they learned to listen to “the stars, the moon, the wind, the animals and the trees” and that “the Earth cries out: we have no more time” and that “people natives are on the frontier of the climate emergency and therefore need to be at the center of decisions.”
Txai’s participation in the opening of COP26 is beyond emblematic. First, the president did not attend; second, it was the only Brazilian speech at the event that brought together heads of state and world leaders; third, Txai is young, female and indigenous; fourth, it brought the reminder that without the participation of indigenous peoples there will be no solution to the protection of forests.
While Txai grew up participating in social networks, in movements in defense of the forest and indigenous peoples, organizing indigenous youth, playing an important role in the recent demonstrations in Brasília about the Temporal Mark and preparing to become a lawyer, a new reality emerged: there are a generation of indigenous peoples equipped beyond their ancestral knowledge to play a leading role in their rights and that of forests in global society.
This coincides with the new positioning of science in relation to ancestral knowledge, which not only echoes what Txai said that “original peoples need to be at the center of decisions”, but also recognizes that, in addition to being guardians of the forest, their knowledge of systems natural resources, species regeneration and ecosystem services are an integral part of the solutions and collective effort to be undertaken to reduce the impact of climate change.
The ancient teaching of Chief Seattle expressed in his emblematic letter to the President of the United States “Whatever harms the earth, harms the children of the earth. It was not man who wove the web of life: he is merely a thread in it. Whatever he does to the plot, he will do to himself” already anticipated a systemic knowledge about the functioning of the planet, as James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory systematized a few decades ago.
Therefore, in addition to the simple poetry contained in Txai’s speech, listening to the stars and the moon implies how biodynamics proves to take into account cosmic cycles and their impact; listening to the wind, observing animals and trees means being in tune with meteorological signals, the vitality of life and the environmental services provided by nature. It is deep ecology that we are referring to, it is the complex and systemic approach that the environmental sciences so badly need today.
Txai brings within itself a long lineage of ancestral wisdom from the original peoples, without which we will not be able to deal with the greatest challenge ever faced by civilization to date. The 24 years of Txai-Surui contain ancient wisdom that is indispensable to our survival. Being represented by her at the opening of COP26 points to the possibility of a more powerful Brazil than we realize, a Brazil whose sociocultural amalgamation, in symbiosis with nature, ancestral knowledge, science, technology, entrepreneurship, equity and justice society, can definitively contribute to a new stage of civilizing evolution.
I recommend reading the article in El País to broaden the understanding of the importance of the topic.
Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson during a G20 summit leaders photo opportunity
at Trevi Fountain, Rome (Credit: Alessandro Serranò/REX/Shutterstock)
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
It seems that the whole world only talks at COP26. In part, it’s true. Considering the coverage of the great international press, it is certainly the most mentioned and sought after international event in the last two days. But while for most of the global population the climate negotiations are unknown, their effects on the weather and their changes are certainly of great interest.
The Glasgow meeting is seen as pivotal as the “window of time” to curb the brutal and unknown effects of climate change is closing. It is crucial to have breakthroughs, commitments to real emission reductions and an agreed route that is safe for all. Leaving countries and communities behind is not an option.
Therefore, the presence of 120 world leaders in Glasgow indicates the political interest in the subject. On the other hand, the absence of important actors such as the heads of government of Brazil and China makes it difficult for large leaps to be achieved. Additionally, there was much expectation that real advances would be discussed during the G20 meeting in Italy. The center of global power could have given the necessary push to the subject.
The big news for COP26 could be the strengthened participation of the United States. Despite yesterday proposing a global version of Build, Back, Better – his motto of government – President Biden has encountered difficulties in his own party to mobilize the American Congress in his plan to decarbonize the economy. His energy transition proposal faces resistance and institutional arrangements that are difficult to untie: Big Oil lobbies, unions, local political interests.
It seems like everyone really just talks at the COP and expectations are high. The political context, however, does not seem to be favorable to major advances.
The circumstances of this meeting are completely special, considering the global context. The COP scheduled to take place in Brazil was canceled due to ideological positions of the Brazilian government. Then, the social upheaval in Chile caused the meeting to be hosted by Madrid. Finally, the pandemic postponed the COP26 meeting in the United Kingdom. If, on the one hand, political meetings have been postponed, the extreme effects of the climate continue to affect everyone and the science is clearer than ever on the urgency of action. The pressures for answers are growing.
António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations at the
Summit of World Leaders, COP26 (UNFCCC Credit)
By Luiz Eduardo Rielli
COP26 – Conference of the Parties – of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change formally started yesterday, in Glasgow, with the opening of the works and the presence of technical teams. However, the presence of the heads of state and government this morning officially kicks off the negotiations, with high expectations about the means to make effective the ambitions and the path agreed in the Paris Agreement, in 2015.
In the inspiring words of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, “Glasgow needs to deliver on the promises of Paris”. It will take more than words. New ambitions and concrete actions will be needed.
In technical terms, there are four main axes on which the chair of the meeting, of the British government, has been prioritizing. Are they:
1) Mitigation – ensure that global emissions reach net zero levels and maintain the ambition of a maximum increase in average global temperature at the end of the century at 1.5°C. Encourage new zero net emissions commitments. More ambitious country commitments (NDCs) and short-term actions.
2) Mobilization for finance – achieving the $100 billion a year pledged at COP15 in Copenhagen, making it possible to leverage the trillions needed in partnerships with the private sector. Increase access to resources for adaptation and technology transfer, especially from island and least developed countries. According to recent data from the OECD, there is still a gap of US$20 billion per year, which can only be reached after 2023
3) Adaptation – supporting all countries to adopt adaptation strategies, avoiding the destructive effects of climate change.
4) Collaboration – finish the backlog of the path agreed in Paris and that need to be specified. Make progress on energy, transport and land use issues. Move forward on the theme of the new carbon market (Art. 6)
This is the agenda that is on the table, but which will certainly not be fully achieved. As in any political and negotiation process, positions are set ambitiously and the building of consensus and bridges reduces the scope of the agreement. There are many sub-themes that are open and that require efforts from the negotiators. Finally, despite having the presence of important heads of state, COP26 starts without a big push from the G20 meeting in Italy and from central countries such as the United States and China.
By Ricardo Young
Today, the climate at the COP continues to be one of determination and enthusiasm. One hundred and twenty world leaders attended the opening and this is the last and best opportunity to keep the temperature at a maximum of 1.5° until 2050.
That enthusiasm is being voiced by key leaders. The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, used a rather strong expression, saying that “humanity has had enough of treating nature like a toilet .” In fact, he was subtle, because what he meant was ‘treat nature like garbage, like humanity’s toilet’.
He didn’t say this lightly, as the World Meteorological Association’s report just came out that the last five years have been the warmest since 1850. The evidence is absolutely clear that this COP is a COP of action, it’s a COP of doing. things happen.
Another fact, quite worrying, was about the effects of the climate crisis on Africa. In the report, made by the FDA (United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development) it is possible that, if this continues until 2050, the production of agricultural commodities could fall by up to 80%, increasing the situation of poverty, in a continent where the Secretary General of the United Nations himself reaffirmed that today he has only 5% of his population covered by the vaccine against COVID.
So, the look at Africa intensifies, the look is politically convenient also because of mass immigration from Africa to the European continent, but also because the tragedy in Africa has amplified a lot.
Now, there is great news, a document that was released a little while ago, at 6:00 pm, because it was embargoed until then, in which more than 100 leaders from all over the world commit themselves to preventing deforestation. This document is truly amazing because it is a historic pledge that over 100 leaders representing over 85% of the world’s forests are committing to reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
At the same time, they are committed to mobilizing US$12 billion in public funds to protect and restore forests, in addition to the US$7 billion already mobilized by the private sector. This is being hailed as the biggest step forward in protecting the world’s forests in a generation, and also a robust mobilization of resources that is approaching nearly $20 billion.
The countries involved range from Northern Canada, Russia, including the Russian steppes in Siberia, to the rainforests in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo, they are all in this declaration. This puts Brazil in a very interesting position, because Brazil has aligned itself with these countries, has also aligned itself with financial commitments, but has not played a leading role. Brazil did not speak during this event. The presidents of Colombia, Indonesia, the prime minister of Norway, the coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, among others, spoke.
This is very encouraging news and, in a certain way, anticipates the expectation that article 6 of the Paris agreement will be regulated, because forests will probably be the most effective mechanism for carbon neutralization in the coming decades.
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Specialist in sustainability strategies and
international development, with experience in infrastructure and energy markets
in Europe, Latin America and Africa. He led the sustainability area
at AES Brasil and Instituto AES, as executive director. He held
executive positions at CPFL Energia and InterCement and was a director
at Fundación Loma Negra, in Argentina. MSc in Ecological Economics,
from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Bachelor in
Business Administration from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV/EAESP) and in
International Relations from USP. He is a partner at NOVí consulting and
a sustainability consultant at Synergia Consultoria.
Member of the Board of Synergia, socio-environmentalist, chairman of the
Board of the Ethos Institute and the Democracy and Sustainability Institute,
Member of the Sustainable Cities WG, Member of the Strategic Group of the
Coalização Brasil Clima, Florestas e Agricultura, was founder of the Movimento
Nossa São Paulo, of the Forum Sustainable Amazon and the All for Education Council.
Graduated in Public Administration from Fundação Getulio Vargas, postgraduate in
General Administration at PDG – EXEC, current Insper, postgraduate in Theory U at MIT,
PhD candidate in Global Sustainability at FSP-USP and research member of
IEA – Institute for Advanced Studies from USP.