COP26: Campaigners challenge Rishi Sunak on fossil fuels as he announces a “rewiring” of global finance

Climate activists were prevented from attending a speech by Rishi Sunak at the COP26 conference after questioning him on tax breaks for fossil fuels.

The UK chancellor was approached outside a photo opportunity at the talks in Glasgow, at which he announced plans to force large UK companies to show how they would reach net zero emissions.

In an encounter, filmed and posted on Twitter by Fatima Zahra Ibrahim, Mr Sunak was asked by an activist called Annie:

“why are you giving tax breaks for fossil fuel companies?”

He replied:

“we’re not, we’ve stopped with the …”

Annie said:

“I don’t think that’s true”

When Mr Sunak lifted a green version of the traditional red budget box, she said:

“There’s not much in the suitcase is there?. Where’s the climate finance. Rishi?”

She was then asked to leave.

Firms to be forced to prove net zero progress

Riski Sunak. Photo: Livestream

In his speech to COP26 on a day focusing on finance, Mr Sunak said the UK would be the world’s first finance centre aligned to net zero emissions by 2050.

He announced that large UK companies would be forced to show how they would reach net zero carbon emissions. This was part of what he described as a rewiring of the global financial system for net zero.

He said there would be better and more consistent climate data, sovereign green bonds, mandatory sustainability disclosures, proper climate risk surveillance and stronger global reporting standards.

Mobilisation of finance is one of the UK government’s COP26 goals. Mr Sunak also announced increased public and private investment.

He said the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero had brought together more than 450 financial organisations from 45 countries with assets worth over $130 trillion of capital.

On public money, he said work was underway to deliver the long-standing promise of $100bn/year to developing countries more quickly. Rich countries had agreed in 2009 they would reach the target by 2020 but it is now not expected until 2023.

Mr Sunak said the UK would commit £100m to the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance – to make it easier for  developing countries to get the money they needed.

He said he was optimistic about the success of COP26 because it was the first climate talks to bring together many of the world’s finance ministers, businesses and investors”.

The aim, he said, was to deliver the promise, made in Paris six years ago, to direct the world’s wealth to protect the planet.

“Today, in Glasgow, we’re providing the investment we need to deliver that ambition.”

This would, he said, make a tangible difference to people’s lives, through, for example, cheap, reliable and clean electricity, better coastal defences, fresh water, cleaner air and better insulated homes.

DrillOrDrop’s reporting at COP26 has been made possible by donations by individual readers

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