New event: On Tuesday, November 16th, we will host a breakfast discussion with US academics Eric Protzer and Paul Summerville about their new book Reclaiming Populism, which explores the relationship between economic opportunity and political volatility. In response, we will hear from Nick Timothy, formerly of No.10, and Paula Surridge, co-author of the British election study. Click here to join.
In the media this week:
- Writing for the Financial Times, Sebastian Payne referenced ‘Workington Man,’ a phrase coined by Onward at the last election to describe the typical first time Conservative voter.
- Director Will Tanner wrote for Times Red Box ahead of the Autumn Budget, arguing that the Chancellor’s focus should be on the foundations of a productive economy: R&D, skills and foreign investment.
- Following the announcement of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review, Director Will Tanner spoke to Sky News about its consequences for the electorate. His response was also reported in City AM’s round up.
- Onward’s research, Qualifying for the Race to Net Zero, was cited in a new paper on green jobs published by The London School of Economics and Political Science.
Onward is hiring!
We are looking for an outstanding individual to be our Head of Communications. There is only one week left to apply, so please get in touch with any questions or if you would like to apply for this role The full job description can be found here.
It would be all too easy to dismiss COP26 as a failure before it has even really begun.
On Sunday night, there was a bitter irony in the way that storms left thousands of delegates stranded after multiple trains were cancelled, forcing many to fly to Glasgow for the climate summit instead. COP26 has been beset by other issues in recent weeks, too: the notable absenteeism of Xi, Putin, Bolsonaro and Erdogan, an accommodation crisis in Glasgow, and a strike by refuse workers that has left the city’s bins overflowing.
But all is not lost.
COP26 immediately succeeds the past weekend’s G20 summit, at which a crucial shift in focus towards greater emissions reductions by 2030 was achieved. The communique from the summit states that the G20 has agreed to “take further action to formulate, implement, update and enhance” 2030 emissions commitments.
This agreement has slipped under the radar somewhat, cloaked by headlines that leaders failed to agree upon a headline 2050 net-zero commitment or a firm phase-out date for coal.
However, a shift in focus towards 2030 targets comes at the perfect time for a COP in which agreements on short-term action will be essential to keeping the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees in touch.
This opens the door to the idea of requiring countries to update their climate pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), more regularly as opposed to the current requirement of every five years. The resubmission of NDCs over the past year has driven an uptake in climate action, prompting multiple countries to increase their ambitions.
For example, in April this year, the USA announced a strengthened NDC which targets a 50-52% reduction in emissions by 2030 below 2005 levels – far more ambitious than the 26-28% target in the previous NDC. Similarly, China has also published a strengthened NDC, increasing ambitions to peak carbon dioxide emissions “around 2030” to “before 2030”, while also targeting a lower carbon intensity.
NDCs provide impetus to climate action and agreeing a reduction in the five-year period between their submission would enable a continued focus on short-term action, which could help to keep the 1.5 degree target alive.
This will not be easy. History has shown us that COP summits rarely produce major, meaningful agreements. There have only really been three real exceptions to this: COP3 in Kyoto, 1997; COP15 in Copenhagen, 2009; and COP21 in Paris, 2015.
But Boris Johnson warned on Monday that the world is “one minute to midnight”. In other words, this COP must be an exception, and not the rule. This COP must deliver the 2030 commitments required to keep the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees within reach. Fortunately, the momentum may just be building to do so.
Alex Luke, Getting to Zero Researcher at Onward
Following the announcement of the Autumn Budget and Spending Review last Wednesday, we published our response, which outlined the 10 most important policies, adopted Onward recommendations, and more. Read it here.
There have been several other policy announcements:
- More than 500,000 rural homes and businesses will be given access to better broadband, under plans to level up parts of the country with improved internet connectivity. Link.
- Ahead of COP26, the UK has become the first G20 nation to make it mandatory for large companies to disclose climate change-related financial risks and opportunities, in line with the Government’s Net Zero targets to have a greener financial system. Link
- An additional £1 billion has been allotted for climate finance, elevating the nation’s commitment to £12.6 billion by 2025. The Prime Minister has identified key actionable areas, and emphasised the importance of urgent action and supporting developing countries in their transition to greener economies. Link