For the first time ever, the most important international climate change conference will put its money where its mouth is. Or rather, other people’s money. The U.K. government, which is hosting the next Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP26, has opened up a call for sponsors for the 2021 event with one key criteria: sponsors must have “ambitious net zero commitments” with a “credible short term action plan.” That’s an abrupt shift from past years, when the conference has been criticized for taking money from utilities, mining companies, and other fossil fuel interests. In the world of climate action, 2020 has been the year of “net-zero.” From oil and gas majors like BP and Shell to tech giants like Microsoft and Apple , to food behemoths like Unilever , the number of companies that have made or strengthened promises to reduce their climate impacts to zero by 2050 in the past eight months is unprecedented. The term “net-zero” means these companies have pledged to reduce their emissions as much as possible and to offset the remainder with carbon removal methods, like planting trees and investing in new technology that can suck […]

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