Playing our part

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, shares why its going to take coordinated and determined action at COP26 to tackle the climate crisis.

This year’s United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, is a critical moment in the fight against the climate crisis. Aviva will be there, playing our part.

Countries need to commit to radically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. And the world needs to work out how to pay for the necessary shift to a low-carbon economy.  

Turning commitments into action depends on investment, so the financial sector will be crucial to success.


COP26 stands for the 26th Conference of the Parties. The Parties in this case being the governments signed up to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

This year’s conference represents perhaps the last chance to reach the agreements needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees as set out in the Paris Agreement. The window of opportunity is shrinking fast and depends on halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The Paris Agreement

Six years ago, at COP21, Paris hosted the largest ever gathering of the world’s leaders under one roof. They were there to sign the Paris Agreement, an international treaty to limit the rise in global average temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, ideally 1.5 degrees. It also aimed to align the flow of global finance towards a low carbon, sustainable future.

The Paris Agreement required countries to define how they would cut their emissions. Those first combined commitments fell well short of the overall reductions the world needs, but Paris also included a ‘ratchet mechanism’. This means governments are expected to submit new, more ambitious, targets every 5 years. COP 26 is the first time this mechanism will be put to the test.

"Aviva has already set out our own ambition to become net zero by 2040."

Aviva’s Contribution

Aviva has already set out our own ambition to become net zero by 2040. We are doing what we can as an insurer, pension provider and investor to drive down carbon pollution across the economy. 

We also recognise that no business can deliver a net zero future on its own. So we are proud to be part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a coalition of the world’s leading financial sector companies committed to net zero. As part of that we are calling on G20 governments to enable the private investment the world needs to reach a net zero economy. You can read more here.

Aviva is convening a coalition at COP26 calling for an International Platform for Climate Finance. This would be a new independent organisation to drive global, systemic changes in finance to help deliver trillions needed each year to meet global climate commitments.  And we’re calling for stronger policy to make polluters across the whole economy pay the full cost of their emissions, and for the UK to have the world’s first net zero financial system. This will help to unleash a wave of low carbon investment, drive net zero across the economy, and support the UK’s green economic recovery. 

"We also recognise that no business can deliver a net zero future on its own."

Our Group CEO, Amanda Blanc, will also bring together a Women in Finance Climate Action Group to make recommendations on how to ensure women are represented and have more influence in shaping the solutions to the climate crisis that the world so badly needs.

The challenges facing our climate are daunting. Taking effective action to overcome them will take coordinated, determined action from government, business and individuals. Aviva is committed to playing our part.

Learn more about COP26 here.

Find out more about how we’re helping our customers take action on climate change here.

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