• Boosting demand for green products will be vital to achieving climate goals.
  • Secretary John Kerry said there's hope to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degree Celsius - but only if we act now.
  • Partnerships, rising awareness and technological innovation all have a role to play in driving emissions reductions.

A Special Edition Agenda Dialogues took place 29 September 2021 at 16:00 CEST, looking at the challenges of restricting global warming and the role of technology and businesses – particularly in hard to abate sectors.

Taking part were:

  • Secretary John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate
  • Antonia Gawel, Head of Climate Action Platform, World Economic Forum
  • Soren Skou, CEO, A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S
  • Jan Jenisch, CEO Holcim

Co-Hosts:

  • Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum
  • Adrian Monck, Managing Director, Head of Public Engagement, World Economic Forum

'We're dangerously behind'

'The race is on', said Secretary Kerry, calling on the world to 'accelerate everything' in an effort to reduce emissions and restrict warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"We're behind, dangerously behind," he said. That's not me speaking, he said. "It's the scientists."

"This entire challenge is defined by arithmetic and physics. We know the numbers and we must be guided by that.”

And 50% of the reduction in emissions we need will come from technologies that are not yet at scale, Kerry said. "We need to increase the demand for green products," he explains. By doing so, by working together, the ‘faster and more effectively we can achieve climate goals.'

Hard to decarbonize sectors

There are sectors of the economy where it's tougher to break through, explained Secretary Kerry - shipping, for example.

"We're trying to solve a chicken and egg problem," said Soren Skou. "Nobody is producing green fuels for shipping, because no ships are using it." Maesrk is making commitments in this area with recent orders for greener ships, though. Skou hopes that this will create demand and a market for green fuels.

"We are convinced we have a climate crisis," he explained. "We're aware we're part of the problem in terms of our emissions. But also believe we're part of the solution." You've got to get out there, set your target and start working on it, he said. "All of us have an obligation to work on this project."

energy, mining, metals, blockchain

What is the World Economic Forum doing to help companies reduce carbon emissions?

Corporate leaders from the mining, metals and manufacturing industries are changing their approach to integrating climate considerations into complex supply chains.

The Forum’s Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative, created to accelerate an industry solution for supply chain visibility and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) requirements, has released a unique proof of concept to trace emissions across the value chain using distributed ledger technology.

Developed in collaboration with industry experts, it not only tests the technological feasibility of the solution, but also explores the complexities of the supply chain dynamics and sets requirements for future data utilization.

In doing so, the proof of concept responds to demands from stakeholders to create “mine-to-market” visibility and accountability.

The World Economic Forum’s Mining and Metals community is a high-level group of peers dedicated to ensuring the long-term sustainability of their industry and society. Read more about their work, and how to join, via our Impact Story.

Building partnerships and boosting awareness

"To make decarbonization a reality, we need to cooperate much more", Jan Jenisch said. Holcim is already working with cities, with academia and with customers, he said. And this is vital in raising awareness of technologies and products that already exist along this pathway.

Customers need to know they already have a choice, he said. There's also increasing pressure and awareness among employees, he explained - "we have 70,000 employees who want our company to be part of the solution."

Scaling existing technologies needs to be part of the plan, agreed Antonia Gawel, as well as driving investment and commitments for emerging solutions. She also agreed on the need to establish and build partnerships between large companies to set targets and take action on them.

Time for urgent action

These partnerships are vital, explained Secretary Kerry. But the challenge is huge and we need to focus on the next 10 years and on action, not just words.

Keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is possible, he believes. "The frustrating thing is that it is achievable, it's not beyond reach," he said. "But, we need more willpower."