28 October 2021

COP 26 and future climate communications

Amidst the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the long-awaited United Nations Conference of the Parties 26, or COP 26 for short, will take place in Glasgow starting on November 01 2021. The entire conference has been delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

The framework of talks and events builds upon the 2015 Paris Agreement, where countries agreed upon pledges to limit their greenhouse gas emissions called nationally determined contributions. Every five years, countries that signed up to the Paris Agreement are expected to improve on their efforts to mitigate climate change

The goals for the upcoming 2021 COP26 are to:

1.  Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

2.  Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

3.  Mobilise finance

4.  Work together to deliver

Messy Comms

But with less than a month to go until the global conference begins, the communications and event management of the entire event has been slammed as “mismanaged” and “very last minute” by high profile sponsors that are backing the conference.

Government communications and planning have been described as poor, slow, and run by “inexperienced” civil service employees, driving concerns by sponsors and participants alike.

From the consistently confusing communications we’ve seen from the government over the last 18 months since the Covid 19 pandemic began, it’s easy to understand how organising a global event like COP26 can result in disjointed messaging. Especially with pandemic fatigue impacting the general public’s engagement and compliance with Covid rules and regulations.

There are concerns that campaigns surrounding COP26 and the race to net-zero will produce weak accountability for the necessary changes to be made. Only this week, the government have been accused of ‘climate hypocrisy’ following the approval of new oil drilling in Surrey, just days before COP26 begins.

Head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, Dave Timms, said: 

“It’s the height of hypocrisy for the government to claim to be a climate leader on the global stage while piling into court to defend a decision to allow millions of barrels of oil to be drilled out of the Surrey countryside.”

Dave Timms


With consumers looking to brands for socially responsible leadership that are both sustainable and environmentally sound in practice and investments, there’s never been a better time for clearer communications and leadership on ESG.

We regularly talk about bringing the message down to a simpler level. If it’s too complex, you don’t get consumer buy-in and changes are harder to bring around.

Mark Lowe says it well:

“Clearly, the challenge goes way beyond communication, but it’s clear to me that the emerging discourse of ESG is alienating for most people. It speaks of long-term threats that seem too huge to overcome and hides behind a Davos-lite jargon that is difficult even for comms professionals to understand.

“So the future for ESG communicators looks tough. The saving grace in the UK is that we have a broad cross-party consensus for action against climate change, but if we don’t get the communication right, the political space will rapidly open up for populist anti-green politics.”

Mark Lowe

If your business needs support or advice on ESG and a sustainable communication strategy, find out how we can help you via the contact form here, or call us on 0845 625 0820.

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