Whisky and Wine
Porto Protocol’s outlook on Glasgow COP26
The first two weeks of November have brought the global spotlight to Glasgow, alongside 10.000 international climate negotiators, for COP26 – the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a summit in charge of negotiating a timely and globally aligned approach towards climate change.
Hopes were particularly high for the 26th edition of COP, on the one hand, because of a dramatic reality check: The pandemic has not only canceled the previous edition of the conference but has made clear the effects of global disruptions that could become ever more frequent and intense in climate change scenarios.
In addition, the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report in August suggested that climate change is accelerating faster than previously expected and soared what was coined as the “red alert”: It concluded that global temperatures will continue to rise until mid-century and that only broad and rapid cuts on GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions can prevent global warming above the 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios.
Also this year, the publication of the UNFCCC Synthesis Report evidenced how countries’ commitments to tackling climate change were falling short in their NDCs (nationally determined contributions), highlighting that the current commitments were likely leading us to a global increase of temperatures of at least 2.7°C.
On the other hand, this COP marked the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, with strong engagement from the new American administration, as well as ambitious climate neutrality goals from major emitters as the European Union, Japan, and China. The conference also initiated with high expectations from governments and the private sector regarding the long-awaited establishment of rules for the international carbon markets, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (the last unfinished component of the Agreement’s work program).
Among the outcomes of the two weeks conference, many praised the breakthrough agreement on fossil fuels (stating a need to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030), the carbon trading deal, the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda for green innovation (aiming to scale and speed up the development of clean technologies), Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use (a landmark commitment involving countries and financial sector against deforestation), the special emphasis to the issue of methane through the Global Methane Pledge, and a rare U.S. – China climate deal.
Meanwhile, various media channels highlighted critics that current national pledges are still set for a 2.4°C scenario, the language on reducing coal was watered down by India and China, and rich countries failed to make clear pledges for finance while vulnerable countries still lack funds to cope with climate change.
From the land of scotch to the world of wine
One might be wondering how directly the outcomes of COP26 affect the wine industry, once winemaking is a low-emitting sector that has been showcasing leading examples of collective action and embedded sustainability as a core business aspect.
The awareness-raising effect of the conference, which hopefully will not fade away, has already propelled increased climate activism in the global wine community: open letters against heavy bottles and petitions to reduce the wine industry’s carbon emissions have echoed beyond wine forums, reaching traditional media and consumers across the globe.
Moreover, climate change poses particular threats to this 8.000 old industry that so far has been a synonym of resilience and sophistication throughout times. Catastrophic climate events, such as frosts and fires, have dreadful impacts on the agricultural sector. When it comes to the viticulture business (a U$400 billion global value-chain), for which the slight variation of temperature and humidity can create “a great year” or ruin a whole harvest, climate change mitigation and adaptation must be a priority.
While important aspects of “damage finance” (the help that countries struck by catastrophic events would receive) were left to further discussion in Egypt’s COP next year, there were a number of specific commitments that deserve the wine industry’s attention.
Innovation in the agricultural sector has been reaffirmed at COP26 as a key climate priority. Agriculture is one of the five focus areas of the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda, aiming specifically to make ‘climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture… the most attractive and widely adopted option for farmers everywhere by 2030.’
Many initiatives are aiming to unlock the potential of finance to drive the sustainable agriculture transition. The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), a US-UAE U$4 billion pledge to support climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, and the Regen10, a bold collective pledge for U$60 billion a year aiming to engage 500 million farmers and convert 50% of global food production to regenerative models, are examples of a clear trend ahead.
While the Global Action Agenda on Innovation in Agriculture aims to mobilize $4bn towards climate-resilient crops, digital technologies, and solutions that improve soil quality, the CGIAR has secured almost U$ 1 billion to investigate and implement solutions to several climate-related challenges in agriculture, including adaptation and climate-smart solutions in partnership with several governments and philanthropic institutions.
Alongside technical and financial support, it is ever more important to leverage the potential of collaborative sharing (and the role of organizations as the Porto Protocol as enablers and catalyzers) to unlock, scale and speed up collective climate action. In this sense, it becomes clearer that sharing knowledge, innovation and best practice is the way forward so the wine world (and beyond) can quickly mitigate its impacts and adapt to climate change, transitioning to sustainable and regenerative models, and increasing its resilience as such a rich and, at the same time, climate-sensitive sector.
Ricieri Vidal Marchi
Climate-KIC Pioneer at the Porto Protocol