COP26 was one of the biggest media moments we’ve witnessed of late. It put world leaders under the microscope with the aim of unlocking the solutions to the greatest threat to humanity’s future – the climate crisis.

Our client the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) was there providing expert advice to governments and policymakers, and we were in the thick of it alongside them doing everything from organising national interviews, to putting out reactive comments and ending on a high with our first CCAG event held in partnership with AECOM.

Hosted at AECOM’s Glasgow branch, we held a panel discussion based on the question ‘How can we deliver an achievable and resilient net-zero world?’. One thing I was really struck by was just how critical trust is in the negotiation process and how much that has eroded over the years. 

CCAG’s Dr Arunabha Ghosh asked us to consider COP26 through the lens of both the carbon and the trust equation. With no carbon budget left to burn, there is a notable lack of attention on which countries have eaten up the lion’s share of it and why. Linked to this is the trust equation, or the idea that the more self-interested you are, the less others trust you.

In the eyes of Dr Ghosh, these two equations must be squared if we have any hope of solving the climate crisis. It’s easy to see why when developed nations promised $100bn in yearly climate finance to countries most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, and it still hasn’t materialised.

Trust is hard won but easy to lose – and as PRs we know this better than most. Authenticity will always win out, but you can’t truly communicate authentically if your actions consistently don’t match your words.

Our latest CCAG report ‘Aftermath: Reflecting on COP26’  is predicated on the notion of fragmented trust being the biggest roadblock to success post-COP26, as broken promises look set to trigger an international crisis of trust.

Many people far more qualified than I am will pass judgment on whether COP26 was a success, failure or somewhere in the middle. But what’s clear is that if richer nations don’t step up and actually follow through on their commitments, the road ahead will remain a rocky one.