Russell Reynolds Associates and the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a breakfast discussion with Harry Boyd Carpenter, Managing Director for Green Economy and Climate Action at the EBRD Harry spoke about the decisions and impressions coming out of COP 26 with a particular focus on green finance His remarks sparked a lively conversation among the group of twenty senior executives from finance, policy and civil society present Harry gave a balanced view of COP, some great progress but a huge amount still to be done to reach Net Zero targets In the next phase, ‘coalitions of the willing’ focused on very specific parts of the green finance agenda are likely. 

“Government is changing, but the climate is changing faster. And business is changing faster than that.”


  • COP 26 was striking for its sheer breadth and depth of participation In a change from previous summits, businesses were present in force, not simply to follow the talks, but to show leadership on the drive for net zero While GFAM is perhaps the most high profile and impressive example of private sector leadership, across the conference there were exciting examples of businesses developing partnership sectors, and demonstrating their own plans for their customers, talent agendas, strategy, and for raising finance While it is exciting to see business ‘pulling the train’, they cannot do it alone Governments will need to create the policy landscapes that enable and reward the transition to net zero
  • Capital supply focussed Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero ( rightly seized attentions with 130 trillion of private capital committed The need to address the demand for that capital in investable projects is also crucial and this was the focus of the EBRD initiative, the Action Plan on Mobilising Private Capital for Climate Finance The agreement of Article 6 represents an interesting opportunity to channel investment and develop bankable projects
  • With broad reaffirmation of the goals articulated in the Paris Agreement, the conversation will shift from the ends to the means of delivery of the transition to net zero The result will likely be a proliferation of smaller, project specific partnerships that are precisely defined and immediate in nature, as well as able to scale up ..“Coalitions of the willing” will be required to deliver these implementable, specific projects.
  • The EBRD and the other multilateral development banks ( will have a crucial role to plan in the mobilization of additional resources, and act as a channel for the mobilization of new sources of finance.


  • COP 26 should be understood both as an event and as part of an ongoing process There were critical negotiations at the Conference, but the build up to the event had seen progress and major issues remain to be addressed in its wake
  • 90 of the world’s emissions are now covered by net zero pledges The reaffirmation of this political consensus creates the conditions for more countries to agree net zero pledges, with the possibility that up to 98 of emissions will be covered within the next year
  • 116 NDCs were updated in advance of the conference, and a further 4 during the event
  • India arrived at the conference having made a net zero pledge, albeit for 2070 Nigeria made such a pledge at the conference Turkey has also developed a commitment for 2053 although they do not yet have an NDC Ukraine has developed a substantially more ambitious plan
  • In short, COP 26 was an important moment, but insufficient in isolation to deliver the commitments of the Paris Agreement.


  • The Glasgow Climate Pact reaffirms the target of restricting global heating to 1 5 C
  • It also restates the IPCC objectives of securing a 45 reduction of emissions by 2030 and 100 reduction by 2050
  • Alarmingly, projections suggest that the aggregated NDCs would result in a 13 7 increase in emissions by 2030 and a consequent c 2 4 C increase in global temperatures (possibly even as severe as 3 C), demonstrating the importance of continued revision of the NDCs, innovation, and new financing
  • With the long term direction agreed, project based, deliverable objectives will be key.
    • There will be the requirement for countries to update their NDCs with the more immediate target of 2030 in mind, and an international architecture established to support annual reviews of progress
    • However, the administrative burden placed on countries by the annual review process should not be underestimated, and the multilateral development banks ( should play a role in supporting countries with their long term strategies and economic sector plans
  • Whether unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies are phased out or phased down, that activity should look broadly the same over the next 15 years
    • The wording change should be seen as a symptom of deep frustration amongst some developing nations at being denied access to fuels that have supported the development of the world’s largest emitters, rather than a genuine belief that coal has an unabated future ..“You are asking us to do things you weren’t willing to do and aren’t currently doing."
  • While it is not the most widely heralded outcome of COP 26 the agreement of Article 6 potentially represents an interesting opportunity Given the EBRD’s focus on market based drivers of investment, Article 6 represents an important tool to channel investment, and develop bankable projects

Partnerships of the Willing

Beyond the main political process of the Glasgow Climate Pact, COP 26 was also a moment develop coalitions of the willing around more specific objectives This resulted in 29 pledges at the conference, with others still being released, including the MDB Joint Climate Statement Of the 29 pledges, four stand out commitments were highlighted:

  • The Global Methane Pledge an ‘easy win’ pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 with investments projected to pay for themselves in the very short term
  • Electric Vehicles one of the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ with 40 countries agreeing zero emission cars will be the new normal, widely accessible, affordable and sustainable by 2035 2040
  • Airlines the International Air Transport Association ( representing 300 of the world’s largest carriers agreed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in October At COP 26 20 airlines went further as part of their membership of the World Economic Forum’s “Target True Zero Initiative”, pledging that nearly 30 of their short haul flights would be electric or hydrogen powered
  • Establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board The ISSB, the “taxonomy of taxonomies” will provide much needed clarity by setting standards, developing a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability disclosure standards
  • The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet Led by the Rockefeller Foundation and supported by the Bezos Earth Fund, the IKEA Foundation, international finance corporations and multilateral development banks The Alliance aims to extend clean, productive use energy to 1 billion underserved people, create tens of millions of green jobs, and avoid and avert over 4 billion tons of emissions
  • Finally, there were two topics that were not discussed Surprisingly, carbon pricing and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism ( did not feature in the discussions, and nor did the future of natural gas as a fuel

The Future Financing Landscape

Financing needs vary, the three categories of climate finance, adaptation finance, and loss and damage compensation are useful All three will need to exist, but attention is predominantly focused on climate finance, and it seems possible that more concentrated resourcing of solutions there will reduce some of the need for loss and damage financing.

 Climate finance  Adaptation finance  Loss and damage
  • The $100bn required for climate
    financing was missed by some
    $20bn. While is it possible that
    the target will be reached by
    2023, this seems far from certain.
  • Governments from the Global
    South feel let down by this,
    particularly where they are asked
    to be more ambitious in their
    NDCs, but deterred from
    developing fossil fuel power
  • It is expected that next year,
    recipient governments will
    increase the pressure on donors
    and the international community
    on the availability of climate
    financing, as a pre requisite for
    revising NDCs.
  • There is a need to double
    adaptation finance from the
    $20bn committed in 2019.
  • This has proved to be a
    challenging area for the EBRD
    in the past, given its private
    sector development mandate,
    but it is possible that there will
    now be the momentum and
    expertise to develop bankable
    projects in this space.
  • Loss and damage commitments were referenced at COP26, with future activation of the Santiago Network a possibility. However, there are as yet no figures attached to the plans, and no financing mechanisms.

With thanks to the attendance and insightful contributions of:

  • Andrew Cross, Cross Risk Consulting, Managing Director 
  • David Walker, Citibank, Head of Public Sector Group, EMEA Banking, Capital Markets & Advisory
  • Divya Seshamani, Greensphere Capital LLP, Managing Partner
  • Elsa Palanza, Barclays Bank PLC, Managing Director, Global Head of Sustainability and Environmental Social and Governance
  • Gillian Karran Cumberlege, Fidelio Partners, Head of Chair & Board Practice/Chapter Zero, Board Member & Steering Committee Member
  • Graeme Griffiths, Principles for Responsible Investment, Chief Operating Officer
  • Harry Boyd Carpenter, EBRD , Managing Director for Green Economy and Climate Action
  • Joseph Nganga, Rockefeller Foundation, Executive Director, Power & Climate Africa
  • James Cameron, Friend of COP26 / SYSTEMIQ Ltd, Senior Advisor
  • Julie Hirigoyen, UK Green Building Council, Chief Executive Officer
  • Laurie Spengler, Courageous Capital Advisors, Founder & CEO; CDC, Non Executive Director
  • Matthew Bell Frontier Economics Ltd, Director and Joint Head of Public Policy / Energy Saving Trust, Executive Director
  • Melinda Bohannon, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Strategy Director
  • Michael Hugman, Children's Investment Fund Foundation, Director, Climate Finance
  • Sam Gyimah, Goldman Sachs International, Non Executive Director/Blume Equity, Strategic Advisor & Founding Advisory Board Member
  • Timon Drakesmith, Carbon Trust Venture Capital, Chief Financial Officer
  • Yosef Lev Kapsogiorgos, Draycott Advisors, Partner