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COP26 - Financiers of polluters in charge: A crucial climate summit is becoming the biggest finance greenwash in history

This report unpacks the spin of Net.Zero and explains how big corporations have hijacked the decision-making table at the global government level.

At the climate summit in Glasgow, delegates will for the first time consider how to reform financial markets to ensure that financial flows are “consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.” The current proposal on the table, though, is not for governments to embark on an ambitious reform process to prevent financial firms from making investments that endanger the future of the planet.

The 31-page proposal on Private Finance, authored for COP26 by Mark Carney, special advisor to the UK Prime Minister and to the UN Secretary-General, is based on ideas developed by the big players on financial markets themselves. It is no surprise then that self-regulation is at the heart of the proposals. But it gets worse. Not only have the proposals been developed by the likes of JP Morgan Chase, BlackRock, BNP Paribas and other financial firms with a heavy engagement in fossil fuels, but many of these same firms will also be leading the follow-up to COP26. In fact, as things stand, governments are not called on to do anything of substance on private finance and climate after the summit – financial firms will take it from here.

The ticket for financial firms to become part of the coalition that will lead the COP26 follow-up is a commitment to “net-zero by 2050”, ie. carbon neutrality three decades from now. The vagueness of this commitment leaves the door wide open to convenient loopholes, and for corporations to do little or nothing to reduce their carbon emissions for years to come. In sum, even if a financial firm continues to invest massively in fossil fuels, it can still be actively included in the UN agenda on private finance and climate change.

Sadly, COP26 looks set to become the biggest finance greenwash event in history where the trend of corporate capture of the multilateral system of the UN reaches a new level.