Reflecting back on the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or “COP26,” it may well become known as the “Pledge and Commitment COP.” Governments, businesses, multilateral institutions and civil society focused their two weeks in Glasgow on how to “get things done” to limit the planet’s rising temperatures to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. The apparent solution: pledges and commitments. Now comes the hard work: adhering to these pledges and commitments, with clearly defined milestones, in a transparent and accountable manner to ensure environmental integrity.
As the delegates of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP26) return from two hard weeks in Glasgow, significant progress has been made on establishing international rules for market and non-market mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. The United Kingdom (U.K.) host of COP26 highlighted the importance of reducing emissions from shipping, aviation and road transport, placing these firmly on the agenda by designating last Wednesday as Transport Day. With this in mind, we have taken a more in depth look at the recent developments in Europe, as the European Commission (EC) proposes to revise the existing EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and more recently the U.K. government issued a proposal for the U.K. Emissions Trading Scheme (U.K. ETS) set out in the ‘Net-Zero Strategy’ (NZS). We consider these provisions in the context of respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently established the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), reinforcing the Biden-Harris administration’s strong commitment to mitigating legacy damage from climate change and building resiliency for the future. Established in response to President Biden’s Executive Order in January, the office officially opened on August 1.
Today during Transport Day at COP26, we highlight some of the key events taking place in Glasgow across the broad reaches of the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implement more sustainable actions.
On November 3, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Staff Legal Bulletin (SLB 14L) limiting the ability of public companies to exclude from proxy statements shareholder proposals that relate to significant social issues and providing clarification regarding certain procedural requirements applicable to shareholder proposals. SLB 14L rescinds prior SLBs 14I, 14J and 14K and is expected to ease the path for shareholder proposals, notably those related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, to make it into the proxy statement.
On Thursday, November 4, proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) launched an open comment period on 16 proposed policy changes. The request for comment grouped the proposed changes within five general topics: (i) Board Diversity; (ii) Board Accountability – Unequal Voting Rights; (iii) Board and Other Governance Structure Elections; (iv) Climate; and (v) Compensation. Focusing primarily on the impact to the U.S. benchmarks, these general topics are summarized below; however, this blog post focuses on ISS’s updates regarding climate issues.
As we previewed before the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26, or the “Conference”), ongoing international discussions have produced notable initiatives to protect natural capital and biodiversity while tackling the climate crisis. Those discussions are gaining traction as the week continues. On November 2, the World Leaders Summit’s forests and land use event saw numerous new commitments and initiatives from governments, businesses, investors, civil society and philanthropists to reduce deforestation and land degradation, mobilize investments in forests, and transition to sustainable agriculture practices and deforestation-free supply chains. Chief among these was a pledge signed by more than 100 countries and the European Union to halt and reverse global deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
Yesterday, we highlighted some of the developments on coal at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), including issuance of a “Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement” committing to ending all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally and pursue a transition to clean power generation. While a number of countries and organizations appeared to support the pledge, with many issuing their own statements on ending international coal financing and phasing out coal-fired power generation during COP26’s Energy Day, fewer than 80 countries and organizations have actually signed onto the statement’s binding commitments (the “Pledge”).