Jon Benjamin
Ambassador
British Embassy in Mexico City
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Expert Contributor

Green Revolution: Clean Growth and the Road to (and From) COP26

By Jon Benjamin | Thu, 10/28/2021 - 11:11

If there’s a colour growing in popularity, influence and importance these days, it’s green. Green is the key to unlocking a sustainable future for our planet, for each of us individually, for our businesses, our economies and for the generations who will follow us.

Green is also the thread that ties us all together – across industries, across nations, across ages, professions and backgrounds. Tackling climate change and preserving our planet is the biggest challenge the world faces today, intrinsically linked to recovery from the pandemic. Driving the green agenda is a way in which we can build our economies up again and ensure the future is brighter, more resilient, and greener than the past.

A big part of this huge task is Clean Growth. Clean Growth is defined in many ways, but at the heart of it is increasing the national income of the UK while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Given the performance of an economy depends on a variety of sectors and actors, Clean Growth cuts across all facets of life, from sustainable energy sources, net zero industrial footprints and education on climate and skills for the future, to sustainable farming and agriculture, technology and innovation, electric cars and smart cities, to name just a few areas.

In this way we can see how green and Clean Growth affects and supports all of us, both as individuals, and as a part of something much bigger, a part of history, a turning point in the journey of our planet.

At the embassy in Mexico City, we are including and prioritizing Clean Growth across all our pillars of work, whether cross-sector commercial support, policy work or program aid. In November 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 10-point plan, setting out the UK’s approach to re-invent the British economy, supporting green jobs and accelerating the path to net zero. The plan includes initiatives such as a ban on combustion engine sales by 2030, an extra £200 million (US$275 million) toward carbon capture initiatives, planting 30,000ha of trees per year, a pledge to quadruple offshore wind power to 40GW, and an ambition to make London the global centre for green finance. The UK aims to be at the forefront of the green and Clean Growth agenda, supporting our international partners along their journeys too.

And we are getting our private sector on board; colleagues within the Department for International Trade (DIT) are working closely with businesses and industry groups, which play a crucial role in the success of Clean Growth and rebuilding our economies post-COVID-19. CEOs are conveying the message to fellow CEOs and board members to raise awareness of the role of the private sector in stopping climate change.

The private sector supports innovation, the creation of green jobs, a sustainable physical and digital business footprint – and green trade is a powerful tool in incentivizing efficient production techniques, technologies and supply chains.

We have a golden opportunity just around the corner for governments and businesses to double down on climate commitments and drive new initiatives on the road to net zero and Paris Agreement terms. We’re just days away from COP26, the most important climate forum in recent years, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy in Glasgow, Scotland.

COP26, running from the 31st October to the 12th November, will bring together heads of state, the private sector, civil society and key stakeholders to commit to working together to drive the green agenda. To do this, COP26 will touch on key themes, all of which have a role to play in Clean Growth and climate preservation:

  • Finance
  • Energy
  • Youth and public empowerment
  • Nature
  • Adaptation, loss and damage
  • Gender
  • Science and innovation
  • Transport
  • Cities, regions and built environment

The UK is working with nations across the globe to ensure COP26 delivers as a milestone in the battle against climate change – and DIT is championing business engagement, both in the run-up to, during, and following the event. Just last month, the UK’s newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss visited Mexico on her first overseas trip, and during her program hosted a COP26 Business Forum for British companies in Mexico and Mexican investors in the UK. The forum heard from Truss, Mexican Minister of Finance Ramírez de la O, and companies in the Race to Zero, facilitating a conversation on the private sector’s role in Clean Growth.  

Of course, COP26 is only the beginning – the real work begins after this, and the green revolution will need the support of all in society and its leaders to succeed. Clean Growth is the priority now, and for the foreseeable future, building back post-pandemic to a world where the grass really is greener.

If you want to learn more about how the UK is working with international partners on Clean Growth and COP26, or how sustainable UK businesses can work with you, please visit the COP26 homepage, the UK’s Clean Growth strategy landing page, or get in touch with dit.mexico@fco.gov.uk for more detail on our collaboration with Mexico.

Photo by:   Jon Benjamin