UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP leads COP26 discussions to put concrete tools on the table for climate action

15 November 2021

During COP26, UCL IIPP Founding Director Mariana Mazzucato participated in high level events with world-renowned climate leaders to highlight the specific economic approaches and mechanisms governments urgently need to utilise in addressing the climate crisis.


For two weeks in early November, world leaders met for COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where they negotiated how to increase global ambition for climate action, building on the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015. IIPP’s founding director, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, shared a message of urgency and need for boldness around concrete market shaping and mission-oriented innovation policies, beyond the loose messages of ambition from negotiators.  

Professor Mazzucato moderated an event with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Teresa Ribera, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, on the concrete examples of policy instruments and economic tools that can be leveraged to drive forward climate action.  

Event poster for the getting serious about the green economy event

The event – Getting Serious about the Green Economy: Social and Economic Tools to Achieve Bold Climate Targets – was held in the European Union Pavilion and began by exploring the linkages between climate change and social and economic justice. The panellists focused on the need to put people and communities at the centre of how they are approaching the challenge of reorganising the economy to support green transitions in Spain and Scotland. The discussion then turned to the tangible economic tools being used to enable the green transition, with Deputy Prime Minister Ribera discussing Spain’s outcomes-based budgeting and First Minister Sturgeon highlighting the significance of the IIPP-supported Scottish National Investment Bank.  

Professor Mazzucato also was a keynote panellist during a separate event hosted by the Scottish National Investment Bank. This event, held with Scottish Parliament Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy Kate Forbes and Scottish National Investment Bank Chair Willie Watt, explored the important role of public development banks in directing and accelerating green finance for a just transition. A just green transition demands specific forms of finance which public development banks can enable, as Professor Mazzucato noted: 

‘“Public banks, in theory, can be really beneficial as they deliver patient, long-term finance. But they can also be part of the problem. The point is to use these institutions as part of an ecosystem for the financial system as direct lenders.’ 

To underline the urgency of the challenge ahead, IIPP commissioned Cornelia Parker, one of Britain's most acclaimed contemporary artists, to create a visual artwork entitled (and spelling out in neon-lit letters) HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME. The piece was featured in one of the main corridors of the COP26 venue, reminding delegates of their mission.

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