Energy & Climate Change, Management & Regulation, Natural Environment

In the run up to the globe's most important meeting on climate change, the #CIWEMtalksCOP26 series asks thought leaders from the water and environmental industry and beyond to answer a common question: what do you most want COP26 to deliver? Here we'll be serialising their answers.

Dr Geoff Darch is Anglian Water water resources strategy manager and is responsible for the company’s long-term Water Resources Management Plan, Drought Plan and associated investment planning. He co-founded CIWEM’s Climate Change Panel in 2009 and was the inaugural chair for nine years. Darch is a Chartered Scientist and Chartered Water & Environmental Manager and holds an MSc in Climate Change and PhD in hydro-climatology.

"COP26 should not just be the next COP, it should be the COP: one that focuses on implementation. It should result in a set of Glasgow Protocols that will truly set up the 2020s as the decade of action and set the world on course to deliver carbon neutrality and resilience.

"One protocol should commit countries to binding carbon budgets, similar to those developed by the UK’s Climate Change Committee. Current commitments do not add up to achievement of the Paris Agreement limits to global temperature.

"A practical way to achieve this is by setting budgets in clearly defined windows. This will enable policy evaluation of measures that it will be possible to introduce in the short and long-term, and assessment of existing policy with regards to helping or hindering budget achievement. It should identify immediate actions such as the earliest cessation of coal burning without CCS.

"It should also highlight dependency on policy options that are currently infeasible or untested, allowing time for feasibility assessment, or the search for alternatives.

"A second protocol should commit countries to action on adaptation. For far too long, adaptation has been neglected, despite the immediate and local benefits that this provides. The lack of adaptation has this year exacerbated the impacts of heatwaves and drought in western North America, floods in Europe and China and water scarcity in the Middle East.

"All countries should commit to building resilience, through a set of detailed and financed adaptation plans. This should start with vulnerable sectors, such as those associated with water resources. Furthermore, there should be concerted action to build resilience in global supply chains for food and critical supplies.

"An adaptive pathways approach, such as that developed by the British Standards Institution, should be adopted to manage uncertainties.

"A third protocol should establish a comprehensive financing framework. International financing institutions such as the multi-lateral development banks have made significant commitments to financing climate-related investments. This aspiration needs to be matched by private sector institutions. However, the supply of investment is not the issue: the gap is the development of investable projects that will deliver net zero carbon and resilience.

"COP should develop a process to bring forward such projects faster and in much greater quantities, to match current need. This should be supported by capacity building and monitoring and evaluation to ensure that lessons learnt are quickly and widely adopted."

Connect with Geoff

Connect with Geoff

Dr Geoff Darch is Anglian Water water resources strategy manager and co-founded CIWEM’s Climate Change Panel in 2009.

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