Behind the scenes at COP26

What two weeks in Glasgow was really like

A group of men in suits are standing around a breakfast bar chatting over a cup of coffee. It’s a fairly common precursor to a finance industry event, but perhaps unlike other industry events, they’re talking about Greta Thunberg, a teenage girl, and discussing her remarks from climate marches in Glasgow a few days prior.

Thunberg is of course a powerful force in the fight for climate action, and is known and discussed by pretty much everyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock for the past few years. But to me this scene of serious men in suits gravely debating a teenage girl – especially after a lack of face-to-face discussion and debate over lockdown – really epitomised the two weeks I spent at the COP26 conference in Glasgow and surrounding events.

The willingness of the industry to engage with other voices – be that youth, women, indigenous people, corporates, regulators and more – was clear, and is surely the only way real progress will be made.

By now ESG Clarity readers will no doubt have read, digested and dissected the high-level finance pledges from the first week of COP26, as well as the Global Finance Pact from the end of the second with the help of our Guide to COP26 where we posted live coverage and commentary reacting to the event. Our audience will also have seen the numerous ‘hot takes’ and seemingly opposing realities of the conference condensed into 280 characters on Twitter.

Without wanting to add to the churn, or present some sort of black and white response to what is a highly complex situation, this article will highlight just a few points that demonstrate this aptitude for engagement and therefore capture what two weeks from 1-12 November in Glasgow was really like.

Read the full article in ESG Clarity’s November 2021 digital magazine.

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...