From 31 October until 12 November 2021, the United Kingdom hosts the 26th annual Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The summit brings together voices from international delegates who engage in discussions about the future of global climate action. The debates take pace in formal and informal settings. Ahead of the summit, the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the EU Parliament were working tirelessly to prepare for the discussions. Read on to discover how they prepared for the summit and find out about the new green policy trend- hydrogen.
Why is the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow so important to European policymakers?
The COP26 summit welcomes over 25,000 representatives from 200 countries, who come together to discuss new directions for green policy, such as hydrogen or transportation policy, and accelerate climate action. The event has been described as “the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control”. During this year’s summit, the focus will undoubtedly lie on fulfilling the goals established in the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the delegates will follow the principles established during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Before the COP26 conference, a G20 summit took place in Rome. It has been widely criticized for the delegate’s failure to establish concrete green policy commitments. Therefore, the pressure on politicians to present clear solutions for fighting climate change is even higher. In 2015, during the UN Climate Conference, almost all countries in the world agreed to a binding commitment, known as the Paris Agreement, to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees, or ideally 1,5 degrees above preindustrial levels. As a result of this year’s conference, we can hope for a declaration signed by participating members, including further legally binding green policy commitments.
The European policymakers have been actively tweeting about the summit since the beginning of the year. In particular, the preceding month has seen an enormous spike in interest among politicians. Only in October, our platform registered 1,612 tweets with the hashtag #COP26 from elected policymakers (🔗learn more about the institutions we cover). The sentiment analysis revealed that the tweets have predominantly been written in a positive tone.
What kind of green policy directions are the EU and the UK parliaments discussing ahead of COP26?
EU preparations for COP26
Since the beginning of the year, the European Parliament has been actively discussing the EU’s position on green policy ahead of the UN Climate Conference. Our platform identified 191 policy documents published by the EU institutions, which directly mentioned COP26. The top three most active politicians with regards to the UN summit are Ursula von der Leyen, Vincent Chauvet, and Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, engaged in 16 policy-related activities, including the communication from the European Commission about the “Fit for 55” legislative package. The legislation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least by 55% until 2030 to fulfill the commitment of climate neutrality by 2050 established in the Green New Deal. In second and third place are Vincent Chauvet (12 documents and activities) and the President of the European Committee of the Regions Apostolos Tzitzikostas (10 documents and activities). Both policymakers have actively contributed to green policy discussions in the Committee of the Regions.
EU green policy objectives
Unsurprisingly, our AI-driven tool identified the EU Parliament resolution on the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference as the most important in the current European policy environment. The document stresses the importance of diplomatic solutions, especially regarding developing countries, that need to be established during COP26 to successfully tackle global warming. The Parliament also praised President Biden’s commitment to reduce US GHG emissions by half until 2030. European policymakers also expressed concern about Chinese green policy measures, which lack concrete goals and financial backing. The document also mentions that the European Commission should develop a European carbon footprint indicator and revise its impact assessment to account for climate goals across all policy areas. Moreover, the Parliamentarians acknowledged the need to align the actions of the Word Trade Organization with the Paris Agreement.
UK preparations for COP26
As the organizers of this year’s conference, the British political actors were set on putting their best foot forward and establishing green policy leadership in Europe and globally. From January until October 2021, our platform registered 1,771 policy documents published by the British Parliament in preparation for the UN Climate Conference. The policymakers with the highest number of pre-COP26 policy activities are Alok Sharma, Boris Johnson and Anne Marie Trevelyan.
With 334 documents and activities, the COP26 President Alok Sharma has been the most active. He worked on establishing green policy objectives ahead of the summit and fostering community engagement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson engaged in 122 policy activities. His main concern was promoting more exhaustive efforts on “coal, cars, cash and trees”. Ahead of the summit, he had individual talks with global leaders to discuss priorities and cooperation opportunities. Anne-Marie Trevelyan (111 documents and activities) contributed to a wide range of green policy topics, ranging from energy and industrial strategy to climate-related human rights topics.
UK green policy objectives
During an oral answer session regarding the UN Climate Conference, the COP26 President discussed green policy objectives. The main policy objectives mentioned by Alok Sharma include the contribution of science and innovation to fighting climate change and local community action. The UK will also emphasize loss and damage compensation for developing countries, which are the most affected by climate change, predominantly caused by developed nations. In particular, Sharma promised that the UK delegation would ensure the operationalization of the Santiago Network. Similar to the EU, a firm and constructive stance towards China was discussed.
Is hydrogen the new direction of green policy developments?
Both the UK and the EU parliaments indicated their interest in developing further hydrogen policy. Statements made in preparation from the COP26 summit mentioned new hydrogen strategies and further action on phasing out fossil-based hydrogen. Since January, the EU institutions have published 1.565 policy documents with references to hydrogen policy. The EU Parliament resolution on the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference also mentions the European Hydrogen Strategy. It predominantly highlights increasing production of renewable hydrogen and decreasing fossil-based hydrogen production. This strategy sets out concrete targets for 40GW electrolysers until 2030. The UK Parliament produced 1.064 policy documents regarding hydrogen. The approach of the Parliament is similar to that of the EU strategy in the sense that the focus remains on expanding low carbon hydrogen production. The aim is for the UK to become a global leader driving efforts towards a global hydrogen economy.
Identified focus areas
Thanks to our Policy-Insider.AI tool, we could map out the key phrases relevant for the UK’s and the EU’s hydrogen policy. On the right picture, you will notice the similarities marked in green and differences marked in red. The EU strategy mentions the need for reskilling and ensuring the employability of the local workforce. Nevertheless, the UK is much more set on making a significant impact in this area. Green job creation in the UK is just an essential part of the green transition, according to the UK Parliament.
This article was originally published in English. Translations have been generated automatically and may be incorrect.