Sustainability Digital – Sept 2020

COP26 – What to expect

The COP26 is an important meeting – it marks the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement – and is said to be a coming together to ratchet up that ambition and sort out the gap between ambition and reality. This session looked at the areas of focus for the meeting and how within the short term focus of this COVID-19 crisis we can mobilise government, business and investors into action around the important issue of climate change.


Nigel Topping has been appointed by the UK Government as the High Level Climate Action Champion for United Nations climate talks, COP26. He was previously the CEO of We Mean Business until December 2019, where he drove radical collaboration for climate action among NGOs working with the world's most influential businesses. This coalition played a key role in bringing the constructive voice of business in support of the Paris Agreement and, under his leadership has continued to drive ambition and action to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy.
Previously, Topping was executive director of CDP, launching new programs and partnerships including supply chain, water, forests and cities. He has 18 years’ experience in the private sector, including as a member of the management board of the world's largest manufacturer of brake pads, TMD Friction.
He is a commissioner on the Energy Transitions Commission and has been instrumental in the launch of many collaborative initiatives such as Science Based Targets, Business for Nature and the Global Commons Alliance.
He holds an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK and an MSc in Holistic Science from Schumacher College, Devon, UK


White is responsible for the content across all Conexus Financial’s institutional media and events. She is responsible for directing the bi-annual Fiduciary Investors Symposium which challenges global investors on investment best practice and aims to place the responsibilities of investors in wider societal, and political contexts, as well as promote the long-term stability of markets and sustainable retirement incomes. She is the editor of, the online news and analysis site for the world’s largest institutional investors. White has been an investment journalist for more than 20 years and has edited industry journals including Investment & Technology, Investor Weekly and MasterFunds Quarterly. She was previously editorial director of InvestorInfo and has worked as a freelance journalist for the Australian Financial Review, CFO, Asset and Asia Asset Management. She has a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney. She was previously a columnist for the Canadian publication, Corporate Knights, which is distributed by the Globe and Mail and The Washington Post. White is currently a fellow in the Finance Leaders Fellowship at the Aspen Institute. The two-year program consists of 22 fellows and seeks to develop the next generation of responsible, community-spirited leaders in the global finance industry.

Key takeaways

  • We are making progress on various levels:
    • 120 countries have now committed to net zero
    • More and more private players and cities are committing to net zero
    • It is becoming increasingly easy to understand which stakeholders are on the right pathway to net zero and which are not
  • Investors can join the race to zero club to accelerate action and place constructive pressure on their manager partners to follow suit.
  • There is inevitable disruption here so we need to commit ourselves to the transition. Trump promised to bring back coal. It’s down 30 per cent. We all need to get on board.
  • The future has the potential to look very different to today in the most positive sense. Asset owners are amongst the most influential voices in the world so speak up to help mould a better tomorrow.

Join the discussion