Protesters play 'Squid Game' at the COP26 summit in Glasgow © Peter Summers/Getty Images
Protesters play 'Squid Game' at the COP26 summit in Glasgow © Peter Summers/Getty Images

Procurement looking for 'clear direction' from COP26

2 November 2021

Procurement and supply chain professionals will be looking for a “clear direction” from the COP26 summit as they work to tackle climate change.

Malcolm Harrison, group CEO at CIPS, said procurement and supply chain managers have a “critical role” in achieving sustainability goals, and it was important for businesses to understand “the messy reality” of the impact of supply chains on the planet. 

“I think we are all eagerly awaiting the outcome of the talks and a clear direction on how the profession can contribute further on such an important issue for humanity,” he said.

“Procurement and supply chain managers have a critical role in achieving sustainability goals for business, as it is within supply chains that the impact on climate must be addressed.”

Harrison said procurement teams were “uniquely well-placed” to put environmental issues at the forefront of business decisions, and they must  “not to wait for regulation to make change happen”.

He said: “The choices businesses and the profession make right now will ripple down the supply chains for years to come affecting anything from water security to carbon emissions to deforestation to reduction in waste and better use of scarce resources. 

“These are really important issues which the procurement and supply profession is uniquely well-placed to address. Let’s really throw our shoulder to the wheel and make this a time of action not just rhetoric.”

Gus Tugendhat, founder of public spending data company Tussell, said suppliers who were willing to “put [their] money where their mouth is” when it comes to environmental commitments were “likely to benefit”.

“Contracting authorities are being asked to value net zero commitments much more heavily, while suppliers are being incentivised to proactively measure and reduce their emissions,” he said. 

“If firm commitments are agreed to during COP26, the pressure on authorities and suppliers to fulfil these obligations will only increase, while new policies to encourage environmental considerations throughout public procurement may be pushed forward.”

Against this backdrop, here is a roundup of regional pledges to cut emissions:


China recently published its national plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the pledges were criticised for only enshrining previous promises. 

China aims to see its carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and then become carbon neutral before 2060. The country also promised to raise its wind and solar power generation capacity by 2030 in order to reach targets.

However, critics say the country’s environmental targets are undercut by its coal production, which is the world’s single biggest cause of human-driven climate change. China has increased its coal production by almost 6% year on year to 220m tonnes of extra coal. The country has committed to reducing its coal usage by 2026, but campaigners are demanding this date be brought forward.

While China is the leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, the US produces double the amount of carbon dioxide per person. China is also the world’s leading manufacturer – accounting for almost 30% of global output – meaning it takes on outsourced emissions from other countries who rely on it for manufactured goods.

The European Union

The EU agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and aims for 32% of all energy from the bloc to be from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The EU has also led a pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels, which 60 countries have now signed, including Nigeria, Japan and Pakistan. Methane is the second-biggest cause of climate change after carbon dioxide. 

Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which measures country’s environment commits to pledges made in the Paris Agreement, said while the EU has taken “major steps” towards sustainability targets, it warned “action in individual member states tends to vary, and many of them have not yet implemented sufficient measures to meet the EU-wide targets”.


The UK has pledged to decarbonise its power system by 2035, and achieve net zero by 2050. It has also promised to phase out the sale of all new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles by 2040, and phasing out new diesel and petrol-only cars and vans by 2030.

The UK government’s main priority for the conference is to "keep 1.5C alive" according to prime minister Boris Johnson. However, CAT criticised the UK for failing to honour its cash commitments to poorer nations in the battle to prevent global temperatures from rising above the 1.5C damage limitation target. 


President Joe Biden had been hoping to arrive at the conference with his Build Back Better legislation – worth $1.75tn – having passed through Congress, but it has been held up by political tensions.

The bill would pledge $500bn of spending on green policies and a cut to US emissions of 50-52% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. It would provide new tax breaks for electric vehicles and roll out installation of solar panels on homes.


Criticism has been levelled at developed countries for failing to fulfil a commitment made at COP15 to provide $100bn of support per year by 2020 to support poorer nations, mainly in Africa, to reduce their impact on global emissions.

Jean-Paul Adam, director of technology, climate change and natural resources division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, told Africa Renewal: “The $100 billion is only a portion of what is needed to deal with climate change, and it should be reviewed urgently to match the extent of the financing gap.

“African countries are taking proactive stances and committing to move to renewable energy pathways and invest in their own resilience. Many countries are already net positive and absorb more emissions than they create. African countries are ambitious in terms of the low carbon development models they wish to adopt. What is missing is the investment to unlock this opportunity.”

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