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What is COP about?

The Conference of the Parties (CoP) is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.

More Background on the COP
A key task for the COP is to review the national emission inventories submitted by Parties. Based on this information, the COP assesses the effects of the measures taken by Parties and the progress made in achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The COP meets every year (the first COP meeting was held in Berlin Germany in March 1995) and its COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Others).

In 2021 it was the UK’s turn to host the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The UK demonstrated a strong leadership and contributed to accelerate action and inspire businesses in the UK to power ahead with climate change action.

Make UK had just launched it’s Net Zero framework for to encourage members to take action, and took an active part during COP26, working with the UK Government High Level Climate Action Champion for the UK talks (Nigel Topping). Businesses across the UK were invited to make their net zero commitment through the
official UN/UK SME Climate Hub (for SMEs) and Race to Zero (for large companies) channels. See their inspiring stories here.

COP28 which took place in the UAE in December 2023 was a landmark climate conference. The first ever Global Stocktake, showed that, 5 years after the 2018 UNFCCC Paris Agreement, we are far from doing what is needed to achieve net zero target by 2050.

1. Fossil fuels: for the first time ‘transitioning away from fossil fuels’ was officially mentioned. The transition should be done in a just, orderly and equitable manner, to achieve net zero by 2050, in keeping with science.

  • The caveat is that this is in energy systems only and ignores fossil fuels in plastics manufacturing.
  • It allows abatement and removal technologies (CCUS) to be applied to particularly hard-to-abate industries
  • It recognises that ‘transitional fuels (like gas) can play a role’ in facilitating energy transition and security, leaving the door open for oil and gas extraction to continue.
  • Nevertheless, the Oil & Gas Decarbonisation Charter committed to ending gas flaring by 2030, which means that upstream emissions of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, will become a lot lower.

2. Climate finance:

  • The Loss and Damage fund aimed at helping poorer nations cope with the impact of the climate crisis was created, with a funding arrangements framework in place.
    Close to $800m (of which $60m by the UK) have been pledged. Unfortunately this is not even 2% of the estimated $200bn-$400 bn/year that are needed. Moreover, even with funding, access to the money is an ongoing issue with a too long and complicated process.
  • Other funds like the Special Climate Change fund ($80m), the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Finance ($61bn) for the Global South countries were put in place.

3. Energy:

  • 130 countries pledged through the Global Renewals and energy efficiency pledge to triple renewable the global energy capacity (to at least 11GW) and to double global annual rates of energy efficiency improvements by 2030
  • 35 countries signed up to the Industrial Transition Accelerator to catalyse decarbonisation across high emission sectors including energy, industry and transport, and to advance to transition of coal power to clean energy.
  • A Statement was made to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050
  • A clear signal has been sent to the markets that renewables are the future and more investments will be made in the sector.

4. Nature: for the first time a pledge was made on nature conservation, protection and restoration.

The December 2023 landmark Kunmimg-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (BDF) had been signed by 145 countries (UK being a leading one) who agreed on a common frame to halt total nature loss by 2030.         
But the COP 28 missed the point of Nature and these pledges are too weak and need to be turned into action. Despite the Oceans and the Mangrove Breakthrough initiatives it is drastically underfunded (there is a measly few $10 of bns of funding out of the £700bn needed).
Nevertheless the role of oceans in combatting climate change was recognised with a very big achievement of all Southern Nations agreeing to provide a 100% funded protection of an unprecedented area of connected oceans. 

What Make UK are doing around the COPs

The SME Climate Hub

 Make UK encourages its members to take action and to commit to becoming Net Zero by 2050 or sooner, as time is running out to meet this target which is legally binding in the UK.

Members can do this by pledging through the SME Climate Hub, the official initiative of the United Nations (and UK government) and other credible stakeholders through which SME Climate Commitment, businesses will need to cut their absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50% before 2030, from a base year not more than 2 years back in time.
Both scope 1 (own) and scope 2 (own indirect) emissions must be cut in half this decade. Where the value chain emissions (scope 3) are material (relevant) to the total emissions companies should also aim to cut scope 3 emissions in half this decade. 

Businesses have 18 months from making the commitment to provide their first progress report and the format of the report is more flexible for SMEs than for large businesses. More on the SME Climate commitment here.

Member SMEs signing up to the SME Climate Commitment will also be able to post their case study on the ‘SME Climate Hub’.

The UK Business Climate Hub

Make UK is a member of the founding coalition of the UK Business Climate Hub is a shared endeavour, developed with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), the SME Climate Hub* and the UK’s main business organisations, energy networks, high street banks and professional bodies.

Make UK has also published, in partnership with Inspired Plc, its own Guide to net zero for manufacturers and Driving industrial energy efficiency reports.

Sharing best practices:

We want to hear about your sustainability efforts and best practice with us to share them with and inspire other manufacturers to take more action towards net zero.

To ensure it is meaningful, you can use
this simple guide on how to write your case study and to send submit it to Brigitte Amoruso, our Energy and Climate Change Lead, at [email protected].