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After COP26, businesses can expect things to start changing very quickly

November 12, 2021, 11:14 AM UTC

Good morning. This is Katherine Dunn writing from COP26 in Glasgow, taking over the CEO Daily essay today from Alan.

It’s been an often chaotic two weeks, and the negotiators are finally in the end stretch—or at least they hope so. While COP26 is due to end tonight, they have a long history of never ending on time. But with the pandemic making travel complicated, the small city of Glasgow full to bursting, and the world watching, the pressure is on to push a deal through.

What that deal will ultimately look like will be a reflection of Glasgow’s challenges and also how far we’ve come. Unlike Paris, Glasgow was never about one “big deal”; it was about getting into the nitty gritty of how the world will actually decarbonize. To that end, the focus has been on near-term targets—cutting emissions this decade; phasing out coal; setting methane targets; and weighing a global carbon tax. (Though, after some initial optimism, there hasn’t been much talk on that last front.)

This has also been the “Money” COP: again and again, questions have come back to what it will cost, and where and how fast the money must move, for decarbonization to gain momentum. That’s included the real and significant tensions over the unpaid $100 billion developing countries had already promised developing ones to help them adapt. It’s also included many announcements on how the finance industry itself will begin to shift a whopping $130 trillion in assets to net-zero, under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. And it’s about the sizable presence of private industry across the entire two weeks, in a way attendees say is a first.

Whether the agreements at Glasgow measure up to expectations, I have heard from CEOs and analysts alike these past two weeks that for businesses, we can expect things to now start changing very fast. When it comes to net-zero by 2050, there’s now “huge scrutiny on what does it really mean?” said Sagarika Chatterjee, director of climate change at the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. There’s a sense that the commitment simply isn’t impressive anymore—investors are expecting to see practical, near-term transition plans that fall under the current leadership. Another is climate disclosures, which many predicted will increasingly become mandatory.

We’re about to see what “green” finance really means. More news below.

Katherine Dunn


AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca is moving away from its all-non-profit model for selling its COVID-19 vaccine—at least, for sales to developed economies. The company had said it would sell the vaccine "at cost" as long as the pandemic was underway. It will use the profits to fund development of its COVID-19 antibody treatment. Fortune

Moderna vs U.S.

Moderna claims three National Institutes of Health scientists should not be listed as co-inventors of a crucial patent relating to the COVID-19 vaccine that the two parties co-developed (and that has been extremely profitable for Moderna). The NIH was apparently blindsided when Moderna filed a genetic-sequencing patent this year that listed only its own employees as the inventors. The dispute could end up in court. Meanwhile, Moderna/NIH's vaccine apparently allows fewer breakthrough cases than Pfizer/BioNTech's, but results in more cases of rare heart inflammation in young men. Financial Times

Belarus crisis

Turkey has agreed to stop selling one-way plane tickets to Belarus, after the EU asked it to help alleviate the crisis at Belarus's borders with Poland and Lithuania. Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has been welcoming in thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa so as to escort them to the EU's borders, in a cynical and escalating game of brinkmanship. So far, Russia has been taking his side, and the U.S. has warned the EU that it may be about to invade Ukraine to Belarus's south, but President Putin has now called for an end to the border standoff. Bloomberg

Toshiba split

Inspired by shareholder pressure—and perhaps a little by GE and Siemens—Toshiba is going to split into three parts. The Japanese conglomerate will separate its infrastructure, electronic-device and flash-memory units. Fortune


Home sales

U.S. homes are selling at a rate not seen since the late 1990s, according to agents. What's more, sellers are making increasing gains, the National Association of Realtors said, adding that the pandemic had become "an impetus to sell and make a housing trade" for many people. Fortune

EV credit

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is opposing a part of President Joe Biden's big social-spending plan that would give $4,500 in extra tax credits to those buying electric vehicles made by union labor in the U.S. This would be "not who we are as a country," Manchin opined. Fortune

Xi secure

As widely expected, top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have rewritten the party's century-long history to elevate President Xi Jinping to the reputational heights previously enjoyed only by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. In other words, Xi probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Fortune

Impossible China

Impossible Foods, purveyors of meatless burgers and chicken nuggets, wants to push hard into the Chinese market, and it has big claims for its mission. "Welcoming us in is the biggest thing [China] can do to improve their food security," CEO Pat Brown told Fortune's Katherine Dunn on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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