The HorosCOP26

Abstract colours
Louise BanburyWriter
30 October 2021

The COP26 climate conference in Glasgow is set to be a nail-biting event. Will there be a last-minute deal to save the world from climate disasters? Who will be the winners and the losers? We look to the cosmos to see what the stars have to say.

Day 11: Closure of negotiations

It’s officially the final day of COP26. But we predict a rise in sleeping-bag sales as delegates prepare to work long into the weekend to bash out an agreement to ‘keep 1.5C alive”. Will the stars be kind to you, Planet Earth? Let’s ask the cosmos.

A first quarter moon can be a time of stress, disagreement and discord, but it can also bring great energy, motivation, and growth. So it could go either way.

There has been much criticism of the draft agreement published on Wednesday, and many oracles predict that despite the pledges already signed in Glasgow, we are heading to a catastrophic 2.4C.

But we think the zodiac has some surprises in store.

On Wednesday the world’s two biggest emitters, the US and China, stopped trading insults to declare they would work together on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. Even we didn’t foresee that one.

And that’s not the only positive vibe coming from the celestial fields. A call to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels made it to the draft – the first time fossil fuel has been mentioned in a COP agreement.

And, in another first, it talked explicitly, rather than vaguely, about limiting global warming to 1.5C, instead of the upper limit of 2C. You will also be heartened by the emphasis on “recognising the importance of the best available climate science”.

Whether any of this is enough, of course, remains to be seen. The mention of fossil fuel, for example, won’t make it to the final text if Australia, Russia and Saudi Arabia have their way. And even if the agreement is the best you could have hoped for and all 190+ countries sign up to it, your fate depends on whether any of it is implemented.

However, we think that the stars will smile on you because, as the great sage David Attenborough pointed out in his COP26 speech , humans are amazing problem solvers.

Away from the political bickering, prevaricating and spin-doctoring in the Blue Zone, entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors and businesses of all kinds were busy taking things into their own hands.

They were presenting the products and projects and sharing the ideas that could sort out this climate mess (did we mention our appearance at Tech for Our Planet?). And the world over, businesses are awake to the fact that they can be a big, positive, part of the climate solution.

Even John Kerry said it . “Companies are ahead of governments when it comes to taking climate action.” So call us stubborn optimists, Planet Earth, but we think in the end the stars will see that you’re okay.

Day 10: Cities, regions and the built environment

The star of Boris Johnson was spotted briefly in the north yesterday, leaving a trail of wonderment, closely followed by Alok Sharma, in its wake. The meaning of this dazzling visitation is not yet clear. How much of the draft agreement will make it to the final tomorrow? Will there be a sudden run on haggis ? It’s all up for grabs.

Meanwhile, today is the last themed day of COP26, and it’s all about cities, regions and the built environment.

The significance around this is, again, unclear (the published agenda says something vague about “advancing action in the places we live”). But this is Thursday, which is ruled by optimistic Jupiter, so we have prophesied a productive day for you, built environment.

We see you in the Presidency Pavilion, presenting a new report backed by more than 200 businesses, NGOs and academic organisations, urging governments to take more climate action and set more ambitious, science-based goals.

You will call for a shift in focus to reducing absolute emissions, as opposed to per square metre of building area or per person. You will urge more architects to sign up to the 2030 Climate Challenge , which sets targets for embodied carbon (that’s all the greenhouse gas emissions associated with building construction), operational energy and water use.

And we see a panel of mayors, ministers and the private sector coming to an agreement on how to turn pledges into policy, and policy into action.

After all, you, built environment, are responsible for 38% of annual global energy-related CO2 emissions, so you offer plenty of scope for reduction. And, with creative but solid and earthy Taurus as your star, we foresee you playing an important role in the decarbonisation of our buildings and cities.

Tomorrow, we will bother the cosmos one last time. Until then, you can watch our talk at the Tech For Our Planet event here .

Day 9: Transport

What do the stars have in store for the delegates getting down to the business of planes, trains and automobiles today?

Venus and Aquarius have squared in the eleventh house of Tesla, which means the focus is on new technology rather than changing how we travel (flying less, driving less, cycling more) as the way to get to net zero.

It means today’s business does not actually include trains. We see nothing at all in the stars for public transport, and bicycling and walking have been relegated to the Green Zone. So planes and automobiles it is.

We see you, representatives of the global car market, driving up the M8 to talk about your commitment to “kickstarting a mass market for electric vehicles”. We foresee a new deal to eliminate all new car emissions by 2040, albeit with some of your signatures missing (don’t let us down, Toyota ).

Meanwhile, we predict the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition will be brought into the world with an “ambitious and comprehensive declaration on aviation emissions”.

How big a deal that will depend on who joins, of course. Will the big emitters (hello again, China. Hi there, Russia!) get on board? Once again, the answers are in the stars.

from COP26 tomorrow at 6 pm UK time to hear how we help big companies reduce their emissions seamlessly and effectively.

Abstract colours

Day 8: Gender, science and innovation

Women of the world, rise up! Your day has come. As it is one day only (and you must share it with Science and Innovation) let us get a heads up from the stars to help you make the most of it.

As you know, Mercury is in Scorpio this month. Unlike Mercury in Libra, which urges us to find balance and compromise, Mercury in Scorpio makes us naturally suspicious. This cosmic event urges us to seek to always uncover the truth. In other words, you will be in no mood for nonsense.

The COP26 Presidency programme blurb states that Gender Day aims to address the “importance of women’s leadership and participation in driving solutions”.

You will be disappointed, then, that when the UK announced its COP26 core leadership team last year, men took up 10 of the 12 positions.

And even though 45% of the wider UK team are women, you’ll see that most of them are organisers or advisors, rather than top-level negotiators.

The stars tell us that equal gender representation in climate change politics is still some way off. They also reveal that you, women, are still under-represented in the field of climate science. You are the most acutely affected globally by climate change, but you have to shout much louder to be heard.

But let us be positive today, women. The floor is yours. You will tell COP26 that you are very much part of the solution when it comes to climate change. You are so often on the front line, which means you are most likely to find ways to adapt.

You are natural green-tech entrepreneurs (just look at our CEO Rachel Delacour!). Women have been leading the change in corporate responsibility. And, as climate becomes a CEO task, we predict that more people will follow the example of Helena Helmerson , who became H&M's CEO last year after running its sustainability department.

Under Mercury in Scorpio’s truth-seeking influence, we predict that this week is when leaders will see you, women, getting a much bigger seat at the climate change table. Otherwise, we will be missing a very big trick indeed.

In Glasgow today, there's a strong focus on the role of women and girls in solving climate change. But let's remember that all genders should be included in climate discussions.

More celestial activity tomorrow. In the meantime, get updates on Sweep’s activity at COP26 here.

Day 7: Adaptation, loss and damage

As we enter the second week of COP26, the new moon in Scorpio is still making its powerful presence felt. You, dear delegates, would do well to tap into that power. (You might also want an extra can of Irn-Bru. We have foreseen there will be plenty left).

Because today’s talks could be the longest and toughest yet. On the agenda is an issue that has been a major sticking point: how do developed countries pay for poorer nations to adapt to climate change?

On one side of the table will be ministers and business leaders from the communities on the front line. You will have travelled far – from the Philippines, perhaps, or Fiji, Kenya or Puerto Rico. You will be tired and jet-lagged, but you will also be fired up, angry and keen to tell COP26 what it’s like to live with rising sea levels, floods, fires, famines and drought. In short, the effects of the climate mess created by everyone else.

On the other side are the ministers and business leaders from more comfortable nations. We sense most of you would rather talk about climate change mitigation. You would rather not think about adaptation, loss or damage at all, thank you very much. And you certainly would rather not have to pay for it.

However, the energy of Uranus is being re-awakened by Mercury this month, which signals that now is the time for a change in your way of thinking.

The row, to put it simply, is over how big a share of revenues from carbon trading should be given to poorer countries to help them adapt. You, developing countries, want the proceeds from all kinds of carbon credits. You, wealthier communities (we’re looking at you, EU) only want to hand out the taxes from offset trading.

We predict that if you channel that refreshed energy of Uranus, you will come to an agreement, if not today, then before the end of the week. And that could unleash as much as $1 trillion of capital investment into poor nations, helping them deal with the impact of climate change, reduce emissions and boost tech innovation all at the same time. Look to the skies, ministers and business leaders. The heavenly bodies will guide you to do the right thing.

Tomorrow, we interrogate the zodiac for Gender Day. Until then, read up on climate solutions here.

Day 6: Nature

As Venus moves into Taurus’s spirit sector, our energies turn to relationships and finding ways to improve them. And that is a good start for Nature Day.

Our relationship with you, nature, has been rather abusive for the past couple of centuries. At best, we have taken you for granted and at worst, degraded you and exploited you.

We’ve cracked open peatlands and grasslands, releasing billions of tonnes of carbon. We’ve polluted the oceans, decreasing their ability to absorb greenhouse gas. We’ve cut down the rainforests and… well, you know the rest.

But here’s the good news: we are starting to appreciate you again. We are waking up to the fact that protecting and restoring the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity is crucial in our journey to 1.5C. And the stars tell us that COP26 will be the catalyst for resetting our relationship with you, nature.

Today, we predict that business and government leaders will work out how to mainstream and mobilise finance for nature-based solutions. There will be a call to protect at least 30% of the oceans by 2030, and businesses will present ground-breaking initiatives in sectors ranging from finance to food.

In the longer term, we will halt and reverse global deforestation, as agreed by world leaders this week (although some of them seem to be having commitment issues ). And in the far-distant future, Boris Johnson will take up bunny hugging just for the sheer joy of it (sorry about that, bunnies).

In the meantime, read about nature-based solutions here and join us for more celestial shenanigans on Monday.

Day 5: Youth and public empowerment

Friday is governed by Venus, the planet of love, passion and creativity, so we sense fresh energy, teenage hormones and excitement in the air. Welcome to Glasgow, young people! It’s youth empowerment day.

Although not officially invited , the star of Greta rose in the north earlier this week and thousands of you have descended on Glasgow, intent on making your voices heard, inside and outside the conference centre.

And the world knows it should listen. After all you, young people, have a lot at stake. Previous generations have used up most of the global carbon budget (the amount of CO2 that can be in the atmosphere before global warming exceeds 1.5C). So you have a lot less room to manoeuvre. You have to live in the mess older generations created.

We sense that the older generations are sorry about that. Even Alok Sharma is sorry about that.

And governments and businesses are realising how important you could be in tackling climate change. You engage with climate and science and policy like no generation before, and you are not taken in by "positive messaging" or empty pledges.

Today, we predict you will take to the stage and demand more meaningful involvement in climate decision-making. You will ask for more funding to support that involvement, and you will call for a universal climate change education and literacy for all. Above all, you will demand more action and less blah blah . Go for it, youth. Venus is watching from the celestial wings, and we think you’ve got this.

We'll be talking climate action on the Tech For Our Planet stage at COP26 on Thursday 11 November. You can watch it here , and check back in tomorrow for more from the UN stars.

Abstract colours

Day 4: Fossil fuel companies

The stars suggest there will be optimism in the air today. That’s because it’s Thursday, and Thursdays are ruled by Jupiter, the bringer of ambition, abundance and hope (it could also be because it’s the day before Friday).

However, we predict that fossil fuel companies will be feeling a little uneasy, because the COP26 agenda for today is “accelerating the global transition to clean energy”.

To date, you have had little to worry about, fossil fuel companies. The global transition is well behind schedule – to hit any targets agreed in Paris in 2015, we need to move five times faster, and treble our investment in clean energy infrastructure. Despite some progress, fossil fuels are still very much the incumbent (hello, Santos! How are things in the Australia pavilion ?).

But momentum is building. Earlier this week, world leaders agreed a plan to coordinate the introduction of clean technologies and drive down their cost. There was a deal to cut methane emissions (coal, oil and gas extraction is a major source) by 30% by 2030. Rich nations agreed $8.5bn to speed up South Africa’s energy transition. And the stars tell us that today there will be more announcements about measures to scale up clean power.

So what is your destiny in this low-carbon future, fossil fuel companies? As it’s optimistic Thursday, we predict you will start by being more transparent and making more credible pledges (that don’t involve any Moomba or meaningless “carbon neutral” talk).

Then you will ditch your fossil fuel assets and put your money into renewables. After all, the market for solar panels, wind turbines and the like could be worth $1 trillion a year by 2050 , so we see an opportunity for you there. Jupiter is on your side right now fossil fuel companies, so seize your moment.

In the meantime, read up on how to avoid greenwashing and other pitfalls of running a climate programme in our Academy guide .

Day 3: Finance

Our prediction for today is that a wintry chill will descend upon Glasgow (granted, that was an easy one). The clear Scottish skies have also revealed to us that money will be on COP26’s mind. It’s finance Wednesday.

A new moon rising in Scorpio this week is helpful for working on things in our lives that make us feel out of control, such as addictions. You, financial organisations, have an addiction to coal. And it's one expensive habit .

But the stars are in cahoots to relieve you of that burden. Finance ministers, central bank governors and financial institutions will spend an exciting day discussing ways to boost green finance, build infrastructure for high-quality voluntary carbon markets and, in short, make it easier to invest in things that are better for the planet.

And because, as any addict knows, you have to come clean before you can get clean, we predict that soon you’ll all have to include scope 3 in your net zero targets and your reporting. So learn to love that scope 3, financial institutions, and you will be just fine.

For a more scientific view on COP26 for businesses, read our article. And join us for more cosmic fun tomorrow.

Day 2: Countries

How you’re feeling about things today will depend on whether you’re a rich country or a developing one.

If you’re the latter, you might be disappointed even before the talks have started. That pledge made in 2009 to deliver $100bn a year in climate finance to developing nations by 2020? It didn’t happen. And it’s been pushed back again to 2023.

But there are signs, with Mars forming a conjunction with Mercury, that progress is on its way. We predict there will be a sound resolution to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which is all about carbon trading between nations. It will allow the flow of finance to developing countries, with new carbon accounting laws that are robust without being stifling.

And if you’re a developed nation, you might be nervous about those climate pledges you made six years ago, because now you’ll have to unveil your NDCs. And you’ll be asked to bring some new, credible, commitments to the table – however reluctantly (be brave, Australia ).

We'll tune in to the cosmos again tomorrow. In the meantime, read our (much more scientific) roadmap to 1.5C of global warming .

Day 1: Policymakers

Policymakers, your big day has arrived. After jetting into Glasgow yesterday and a sleep in your hotel (we see you in the Blythswood Square rather than the Travelodge) you’ll be ready for COP26 action. The press will be making a thing about those airplane emissions, but nobody really expected you to come by canoe.

As the summit begins, the new moon in Scorpio will oppose unpredictable Uranus, which means great uncertainty. Will China’s Xi Jinping’s Zoom connection hold out? Will Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro make a surprise appearance? The answers are in the stars.

The UK prime minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has been busy making predictions of his own. He says it’s going to be very, very tough this summit. And he's right. Be prepared for long hours trying to agree on how to turn Paris Agreement targets into credible climate policies.

But there will be many positives. As you, dear policymakers, focus on building back your economies post-pandemic, the role of business and finance will be very much top of mind.

We predict you will emerge from COP26 with new regulations around carbon markets and clarification of the rules governing voluntary offsetting, and a general acknowledgement that investing in green tech and renewable energy is the way to go for a global net zero.

More from the zodiac tomorrow. In the meantime, read what we think businesses should look out for at COP26 .Join us live 

Abstract colours

More stories

Transformation through regulation: How to turn compliance into business advantage
Buy or build? Selecting the right ESG data platform for you
How to accelerate your sustainability transformation: 5 webinar takeaways

Track, report and act

Sweep helps you get your carbon on-track

Sign up to The Cleanup, our monthly climate newsletter