COP26 & how you can tackle climate change


Around 200 countries and thousands of world leaders, scientists, businesspeople, negotiators, activists and policymakers attended the UN’s 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, late last year.

The crucial topic at the two-week event was the best ways to tackle climate change, domestically and internationally.

Current climate information

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is an up-to-date scientific understanding of planetary warming and current and future impacts.

It leaves no room for debate, as it starkly warns that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying, and bluntly names humans as the “unequivocal” cause.

Human activity, primarily burning fossil fuels, has increased the average global temperature by about 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. CO2 in the atmosphere is at its highest in at least two million years. The world is currently on track to get 1.5°C hotter by the 2030s.

Key COP26 outcomes & agreements

The Glasgow Climate Pact

Signed by all 197 national representatives, this is the first climate deal to explicitly target the reduction of coal, though this was slightly watered down during the closing stages. Instead of “phase out,” signatories agreed to “phase down,” despite much opposition to this.

The pact does not agree to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C, but countries will revisit their pledges in 2022 to try to keep the target achievable.

No coal by 2040 or 2050 (for some countries)

The Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement is a vital step towards eliminating coal use. The EU and 45 countries agreed to completely transition from coal, increase green energy production and energy-efficiency measures, as well as stop new permits/government support for coal plants.

However, signatories only included five of the top 20 coal-using countries and the key users were absent.

Ending many overseas fossil-fuel projects

Twenty-five countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Italy and Denmark, committed to stop financing unabated foreign fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022.

This is crucial because it should stop richer countries from saying they are cutting carbon footprints while actually exporting their emissions by funding production in poorer countries.

The idea could reduce fossil fuel funds by approximately USD 17.8 billion per year worldwide.

Protecting the world’s forests

Over 140 countries, including China, Brazil, Canada, Russia and the US, pledged to reverse forest loss, halt land degradation and restore forests by 2030.

These nations account for over 90% of the world’s forests.

Fossil fuel car sales to be cut from 2035

Twenty-four governments agreed that all new cars and vans sold in their countries will release zero emissions by 2040, with a target of 2035.

Other areas of note

China and the US pledged to collaborate on several new technologies and policies to “accelerate the transition to a global net-zero economy,” as well as action to reduce CO2 and methane, among other points.

Over 100 countries agreed to reduce their methane emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels.

India – the third-largest national emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) – said it would reach net-zero emissions by 2070.

Sustainable agriculture also became a serious target.

How SGS is tackling climate change

Protecting the environment is essential to our commitment to creating value for society.

Sustainability is embedded in our culture and the way we do business. We have been carbon neutral since 2014 and our strategy is based on:

  1. Reducing energy consumption at source
  2. Using renewable energy, whenever possible
  3. Offsetting residual emissions


Our Sustainability Ambitions 2030 has three pillars – a better planet, society and governance. We have committed to reducing GHG emissions through Science Based Targets.

By 2030, we are aiming to reduce our CO2 emissions per revenue by 55% through:

  • Increasing the number of energy-efficiency measures in our top 100 energy-intensive owned buildings
  • Reducing the average CO2 emissions from our total car fleet by 40%
  • Ensuring that 50% of our cars have low-carbon technologies


We are committed to fully adopting the recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

The business ambition for 1.5°C

We are dedicated to further increasing the ambition levels of current science-based emission reduction targets to align them with keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. We are also focused on the long-term target of reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Supporting you on sustainability

Our comprehensive range of Sustainability Solutions can help you to increase energy efficiency, generate or use renewable energy and reduce GHG emissions.

Agreements made at the summit affect the public and businesses. Countries want their residents and businesses to take part. Here are some COP26 takeaways and how we can support you in these areas.

Practical solutions for adapting to climate change

Rising sea levels, droughts, flooding and severe storms are some of the phenomena already negatively impacting people.

At COP26, the international community looked at ways to avert, minimize and address the loss and damage that climate change has and will create. Solutions included greater investment in early warning systems, flood defenses and more resilient infrastructure and agriculture. Furthermore, they want to see greater protection and restoration of habitats that naturally protect against extreme weather conditions.

This responsibility is not just on governments. Companies must adapt and find practical solutions to help. Long-term investment in the future begins with ensuring an organization’s systems are energy-efficient and sustainable.

How we can help you

We offer auditing against ISO 20121 event sustainability management systems (ESMS) and ISO 50001 energy management systems (EnMS).

ISO 20121 helps businesses to improve sustainability. It provides a framework for setting and achieving realistic targets, covering areas like water consumption, solid waste production and biodiversity impact.

ISO 50001 offers a framework for organizations to establish, implement, maintain and improve energy efficiency.

Both are internationally recognized and demonstrate an organization’s commitment to finding solutions to the effects of climate change.

Accelerating the transition to clean energy

Power generation accounts for a quarter of all GHG emissions. To meet Paris Agreement goals, the world must transition from coal to clean energy five times faster than it is at present.

Clean energy is an opportunity to create a more prosperous world. Solar and wind power are now cheaper than coal in many countries, meaning a transition will help the environment and businesses grow.

Political, financial and technical leaders in the global power sector are working together in the Energy Transition Council to ensure clean power is the most attractive option. COP26 showed support for the Powering Past Coal Alliance – a coalition of countries, cities, banks and utility companies committed to phasing out unabated coal power and international financing for new coal plants.

Consumers and supply chain partners are also looking to collaborate with companies that demonstrate a dependence on clean energy and GHG emission reductions.

How we can help you

We offer auditing against ISO 14064 GHG accounting and verification and ISO 50001.

ISO 14064 provides all organizations with a way to quantify, monitor, report and verify GHG emissions.

ISO 50001 provides an effective framework for reducing energy use, therefore, energy costs and GHG emissions.

Meeting COP26 finance goals

Governments are encouraged to meet their pledges to annually raise at least USD 100 billion in climate finances. Concurrently, companies, banks, insurers and investors need to implement credible business models that enable the transition to a net-zero economy.

Momentum comes from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). So far, over 160 global businesses, responsible for assets exceeding USD 70 trillion, have joined to meet GFANZ’s objectives with net-zero initiatives.

Furthermore, consumers and supply chain partners are increasingly demanding better sustainability from companies with whom they engage. Institutions now regularly evaluate businesses against environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance criteria before making investment decisions.

How we can help you

SGS ESG Certified auditing solutions help organizations to define, achieve and promote their sustainability objectives.

Incorporating SGS criteria and recognized standards, it helps to build stakeholder trust while mitigating value chain risks and enhancing operating performance.

Net-zero must include protecting and restoring nature

Nature was a major focus of COP26. To make positive steps, we must address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Agriculture and forestry account for nearly a quarter of all global GHG emissions. Damaged ecosystems offer us lower protection; for example, there is less clean air if deforestation continues and coastal regions are less protected if mangroves are removed. However, we rely on agriculture and forestry products, and these industries provide millions of jobs and food security.

Governments and business leaders are encouraged to find ways to halt and reverse deforestation, as well as protect other critical ecosystems. This is part of a plan to protect and conserve 30% of global land and 30% of the oceans. To achieve this, there needs to be a global shift towards sustainable land use and nature-based solutions must be central to any country or organization’s climate/business plan.

Being sustainable makes business sense. Regulators, consumers and supply chain partners are increasingly looking for evidence of sustainability goals being attained and progressed. For wood and wood-based products, this means having an effective chain of custody (COC) that ensures that only materials from well-managed forests are used.

How we can help you

ISO 38200 audits demonstrate a COC’s effectiveness in delivering compliant products to markets around the world.

This helps organizations to meet customer and regulatory demands.

Zero-emission transport

Our modern world relies on moving people and goods efficiently and cost-effectively around the globe. However, road transportation accounts for 10% of global emissions and the volume released is rising faster than in any other sector.

Global leaders are looking to accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-powered transport to zero-emission vehicles. The transition is underway, but there must be consensus on expediting this process to meet Paris Agreement targets.

The key is international collaboration at governmental level and a willingness at corporate and individual levels. The Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council is pushing for commitment to ensure that all new automobile and van sales are zero-emission by 2035 (advanced markets) and 2040 (all other markets).

Vehicle manufacturers are also encouraged to lead and commit to only selling zero-emission vehicles by 2035 while fleet-owning businesses are urged to move to greener vehicles by 2030.

Greater demand is driving down costs, making the uptake of this technology more attractive. In addition to delivering cleaner air quality, zero-emission vehicles make good business sense. Consumers and supply chain partners are actively seeking to work with businesses committed to protecting the environment.

How we can help you

Our ISO 14064 audits can support participation in regulated and voluntary programs, such as emissions trading schemes and public reporting.

Delivering net-zero in the built environment

According to the UN, 55% of people live in urban areas. This is predicted to grow to 68% by 2050. Simultaneously, the built environment accounts for 39% of global CO2 emissions. To tackle climate change and achieve net-zero by the middle of the century, we must find ways to exist in urban environments that do not contribute to GHG emissions.

The goal, promoted via the Race to Zero Campaign, is to create a global coalition of net-zero initiatives that commits organizations to halving their emissions by 2030 and achieving zero emissions by 2050.

Creating a net-zero built environment is complex, but many scientists and engineers believe that it is possible. For businesses, the first step is to understand their impact on the environment. The second step is to implement an effective environmental management system (EMS) that can actively aid the shift towards net-zero.

How we can help you

We offer auditing against ISO 14001 EMS.

ISO 14001 provides businesses and organizations with a strategic framework for quantifying, monitoring, reporting, verifying and optimizing energy use.

The standard empowers any organization to continuously improve environmental performance through setting targets and measurements that can be audited and verified.



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