That 2020 was an exceptional year is to state the obvious, just as terrible human impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are painfully still continuing in Europe and across the world, however unevenly. It is not to minimise these negative impacts so much as to strengthen our efforts to move towards a genuinely sustainable form of development that we must also reflect on the lessons it has taught us all, in our own private and professional lives and for our societies more widely. In 2020, Carbon Market Watch can be proud that it has done both.
We have seen even more clearly how interconnected and mutually dependant we are as a global community, how vulnerable we have become as a result of the stresses placed by our demands on earth’s ecosystems, and how urgent action to address these problems is. These lessons have strengthened the need for the work of CMW to be as impactful as possible.
But we have also seen how adaptable, inventive and supportive we can be when necessary, how new, better and desirable ways of life and social behaviours can be learnt quickly, and how available solutions can be scaled remarkably fast. This has all been experienced first-hand by CMW at all levels of its organisation and through its network, hopefully strengthening it for its future activities too.
The CMW experience of the year embodies this mix of affirmation in its mission and hope that it can succeed. I can say that CMW successfully navigated the many challenges presented, something which the whole Board is impressed by and grateful to Sabine Frank and her whole team for, as well as to its funders, supporters and collaborating partner organisations.
As this report shows, throughout the year, CMWs work programme continued strongly, while adjusting to the realities of the public policy agenda. It helped to ensure that the European Green Deal not only remained resilient to the Covid-19 shock but is also essential for its recovery. Through its continuing work in the PlanUp project, CMW was active in ensuring national as well as EU plans are as strong as possible in this respect, even if more remains to be done especially as implementation proceeds. And despite COP26 being postponed, CMW’s work on offsetting and robust international carbon trading rules continued and made progress to build on in 2021 and the re-scheduled COP in Glasgow.
CMW continued to work to ensure the reform and expansion of the EU carbon market that does not come at the expense of its effectiveness or substitute for other policies. Joined with the efforts of other NGOs, the organisation’s newer focus on heavy industrial decarbonisation also helped bring changes in policy approach which should drive demand for climate-neutral materials and industries. CMW strongly advocated for policies that incentivise investment for strategic innovation without unduly favouring incumbents, a litmus test for which will be the proposed carbon border adjustment measure where CMW has actively contributed to the debate. Shipping and aviation remain major challenges for the international agenda, but CMW’s work helped to ensure some progress at least has been made in the EU on these issues.
All in all, with a strong track record and forthcoming pipeline of reports, events and communications in all of these key areas, CMW has positioned itself in the most challenging of years well. I am confident that it will be able to build on this work in 2021 and beyond, all the way towards 2030, the crucial deadline that our mind focuses towards for every year until the end of this decade. For CMW just as for others, the lessons we have learnt in 2020 will be key to ensure that this effort is successful, giving us determination and hope despite and even because of the trauma that was 2020.
Martin Porter, Member of the Board