Director Rob Gross reports from COP

05 Nov 2021

Youth and Public Empowerment Day

Energy day has given way to youth and public empowerment day at COP. Quite fitting therefore that protesters from Fridays for the Future were out in force on the streets of Glasgow (young and old I should add).

Inside the conference we were treated to Al Gore’s stirring presentation on why this is all so important. As the helicopters were audible overhead this just added to the drama.

Our good friends at ECIU inform me that UK Presidency consultations on a draft COP decision text are underway – with a clear mandate from leaders to deliver acceleration.

As for the energy related pledges we discussed yesterday it seems like green grids is an easy win. After all, what’s not to like? The question of coal is obviously not quite so simple. We have to get rid of unabated coal fired power if we want to tackle climate change. There’s no question about that. It’s great that the UK continues to sign up new partners to Powering Past Coal. It’s disappointing (if hardly surprising) that some major emitters didn’t sign up. Yet it’s also encouraging to see new commitments to end various forms of international financial support for new coal.

No doubt the protesters will say this is all too little too late. As one shouted over the fence this morning ‘challenge the greenwash’. Fair enough. And quite why there are 39,000 delegates at COP might be a mystery. But there’s also a lot of people working in good faith to find solutions and I think it’s best to be one of them. I’m delighted that I’m working with a terrific bunch of people across the UK doing just that.

Energy Day

As acronyms go this is on the less snappy end – GGI-OSOWOG – is the green grids initiative one sun one world one grid partnership. And today a bunch of secretaries of state including the UK BEIS Secretary of State Kwasi Karteng and opposite numbers from India, the US, France, Nigeria, Australia, and CEOs from Ofgem, World Bank and elsewhere came together to affirm commitment to green grids.

UKERC has helped support the analytical work in support of this diplomatic effort. So what does it actually mean and is it more than fine words? It is mainly fine words. That’s what diplomatic accords are all about. But this involves the World Bank and major regulators. The goal will be to collaborate on action to build and upgrade the grid infrastructure needed to access the huge potential of solar internationally.


Rob discusses green grids with UKERC academic Will Blyth who worked on the initiative 

Meanwhile in another part of COP we have Energy Minister Greg Hands, his Canadian counterpart, IEA Director Fatih Birrol and countries from Slovenia to Chile speaking about their commitments to the UK’s other big push – powering past coal alliance. 28 new countries have signed up to this Initiative since the UK took on the COP presidency.

The climate protestors arrive tomorrow to say that COP is too much hot air and not enough action. Maybe so, but the mood music at the moment is that a COP that looked to be in danger of failure is edging towards success.

Largely diplomatic efforts like a coalition against coal or in favour of solar might not sound like concrete action. However if it brings on policy change in numerous countries, or changes the actions of international financial bodies like the World Bank then it will beget change.