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COP 26 Day 9: Mission Innovation – Gender and Science

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By Clare Hughes-Williams and Kelsey Farish


Published 10 November 2021


Tuesday’s deliberations were split into two distinct topics – Gender and Science & Innovation.  Discussions in both sessions made progress, although this was overshadowed by a gloomy report from Climate Action Tracker which warned of a potential 2.4°C rise in global temperatures, a much more pessimistic forecast than the 1.8°C forecast by the International Energy Agency over the weekend.

While the world debated the merits of these two apparently contradictory reports, the detailed work in the conference centre continued.


The sessions on gender gave the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, her opportunity to take the stage in Glasgow.

She chaired a panel debate and told delegates it was vital that women's voices were heard: "There is no doubt we must ensure that climate change is a feminist issue. We must make sure the experiences of women and girls across the world, so often disproportionately impacted by climate change, are understood as we devise the solutions.

"And we must make sure the voices of women are at the centre of creating and implementing the solutions to climate change.”

This echoed the sentiments of Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive of Aviva, who chairs the Women in Finance Climate Action Group and who launched a new report on gender inequality and climate finance during the finance sessions last week.

Her group argues that while climate change impacts women across the world significantly, women remain seriously under-represented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance. The group called for urgent action to improve gender equality when designing, delivering and accessing private climate finance such as addressing the disparity of senior female representation on climate issues and improving financial inclusion for women. 

“We can’t solve the climate crisis without involving women and we won’t create equality for women unless we address the climate crisis. With so much at stake, it is negligent beyond belief to ignore the impact on half the world’s population and the contribution women can make. That is why I’ve convened a group of female leaders in finance to consider what more can be done to improve gender equality when designing, delivering and accessing climate finance”, said Blanc.

Science & Innovation

Some of the disappointment at the failure of Monday’s sessions on adaptation to produce any firm outcomes was allayed by two key initiatives that came out of the Science & Innovation stream.

The Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), a network of over 90 organisations across 30 economies, was launched and will see governments, universities, research institutions and communities collaborate to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities on the frontline of climate change.

Its main focus will be the Climate Adaptation and Resilience research programme which will be jointly funded by the UK and Canada.

“Action-focused research is crucial to effective, inclusive and sustainable climate adaptation, particularly to protect the most vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change”, said Anne-Marie Trevelyan, COP26 Champion on Adaptation and Resilience.

She took up the challenge thrown out by the Women in Finance Climate Action Group, neatly pulling the day’s two themes together.

“We will ensure women’s voices shape these conversations, and women’s leadership and expertise are championed to deliver gender-sensitive adaptation solutions. Both the Adaptation Research Alliance and the UK’s support for the Climate Adaptation and Resilience research programme will improve the effectiveness of adaptation, putting people at the heart of climate research to build the resilience of those living on the frontline of the climate crisis.”

In another key announcement, the governments of 22 countries and the European Commission confirmed they will work together to invest in clean energy technologies to help reduce the carbon used by challenging industries.

Four "missions" will help facilitate urban transitions, eliminate emissions from industry, enable CO2 removal and produce renewable fuels.

They are part of Mission Innovation which brings together governments from every continent, international organisations, and private sector investors.

The announcement has been described as a "breakthrough" and was championed by US climate envoy John Kerry, who said it is "accelerating innovation across challenging sectors and technologies to enable a net-zero transition by mid-century"

The rush of new technologies, many of them highly innovative, will test the ingenuity of underwriters. The last thing the insurance industry needs is people pointing accusing fingers at it for hampering the deployment of ambitious green technologies because it cannot offer cover or is charging too high a price. The insurance industry needs to innovate to find ways to support the deployment of these ambitious green technologies