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SunFunder (winner) borrower SunCulture solar irrigation customer, Kenya - credit: SunCulture.


COP26 showcases climate solutions

Innovation is taking centre stage at COP26 in Glasgow this week where the winners of the UN Global Climate Action Awards are showcasing their solutions.

The 11 winning initiatives have been labelled the ‘most practical, scalable and replicable examples’ of innovations that can effectively fight climate change.

“While we have the Paris Agreement as our guide, and nations and businesses promising to work together to keep us moving forward, people often need to see practical examples of what real climate action looks like before they themselves act,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “That’s why the work of these Award winners is so important. This is what inspiring leadership looks like. These awards are about more than shining a light on climate action; these award-winning projects are beacons guiding us towards a better future.”

The awards were launched in 2011 by UNFCCC, and this year’s ceremony, which will be broadcast online, will be held on Wednesday 10 November, 6pm-7.30pm GMT. There are events on all week showcasing the winning innovators, starting today – check out the livestreams.


The 2021 winners of the UN Global Climate Action Award fall under one of the following categories: Climate Neutral NowFinancing for Climate Friendly Investment and Climate Leaders.

Climate Neutral Now:

  • Microsoft | Global: Carbon neutral since 2012, Microsoft is now committing to remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975 by 2050.
  • Taylors of Harrogate | United Kingdom: An independent family tea and coffee business whose carbon neutral product certification is from ‘field to supermarket shelf’ accounting for all the emissions from cultivating, processing and shipping its tea and coffee.
  • ICA Gruppen | Sweden: Sweden’s leading food retailer is going beyond climate neutrality to achieving a net zero impact from the Group’s own operations by 2030 and cutting the climate impact from customers’ grocery purchases in half by 2030. 
  • House of Baukjen | United Kingdom: A London-based fashion house whose business and operations follow in every way the circular economy ideal, from production to materials being cycled, and does so while being carbon negative.

Financing for Climate Friendly Investment: 

  • SunFunder | Africa: The leading debt-financing provider for distributed solar in Africa and other emerging regions, bringing access to energy and long-term climate investments. To date, it has closed over USD 150 million in loans to 57 solar companies.
  • Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance | Multi-regional: The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance network accelerates well-designed financial instruments that can unlock billions towards a sustainable, inclusive, net zero economy, while also reducing private investors’ risks.
  • Energise Africa | Africa: A UK crowdfunding platform enabling people to support renewable energy projects (home solar) in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, it has raised over £25 million in investments from everyday people putting their money to work for climate action and the SDGs.
  • Self-reliance & Solar in the West Bank & Gaza | State of Palestine: The first private sector investments in domestic power supply to help jump-start renewables and support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, supported by the International Finance Corporation.

Climate Leaders: 

  • City of Paris | France: By 2050, the City of Paris aims to reduce local emissions by 100%, achieving the goal of zero emissions in Paris, promoting an 80% reduction in the carbon footprint of Paris compared to 2004 levels.
  • Samsø | Denmark: Denmark’s municipality of the island of Samsø has completely transformed its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy, becoming the world’s first renewable energy island.
  • Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara | Mexico: The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara Climate Action Plan, launched at the end of 2020, is the first instrument of its kind, built on a metropolitan scale in Mexico and within the C40 Network

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Written By

Iain is a creative writer, journalist and lecturer, and formerly an editor of two international business publications. Iain is now editor of Innovators Magazine, as well as the strategic content director for OnePoint5Media.


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