- COP27 takes place in Egypt this month – urgent priorities include mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration.
- Here we focus on key topics which deserve more attention as we seek to find climate change solutions.
- Contributions from business leaders shine a light on what's needed to consolidate action.
This year’s UN Climate Conference COP27 takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh, 6-18 November, against a backdrop of turbulent global events: the war in Ukraine has sparked an energy crisis and we are experiencing more extreme weather events.
Last year's COP26 in Glasgow, marked five years since the Paris Agreement was signed, with its aim to keep global temperatures well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to limit temperature increases to 1.5C.
Now, according to the UN's recent Emissions Gap Report, there is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”. This stark warning sets the tone for this year's climate summit.
With a vision to scale-up climate efforts and accelerate emissions reductions, the summit will focus on four central objectives: mitigation and reducing emissions; adaptation and enhancing resilience; the $100 billion promised by developed nations; and the urgent need for collaboration.
With that in mind, we've highlighted key climate issues – which aren't always given due consideration – but which should be prioritized to create real impact, including contributions from two business leaders.
1. Harnessing the power of the ocean
"Five solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%"
We're not harnessing the true power of the ocean. Not only does the ocean offer solutions to reduce emissions and make a huge environmental impact, but we can also improve the health of this precious ecosystem.
Kristian Teleki, Director, Friends of Ocean Action, explains "There are five solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in order to get us to the 1.5C target those five solutions are: reducing emissions from maritime transport; nature-based solutions; shifting diets to eat more low carbon-intensive food from the ocean; offshore wind (or offshore renewable energy); and indeed storing carbon in the seabed."
The Blue Carbon Challenge is a key part of this effort to solve the climate crisis. Essentially, it's a global call for blue carbon initiatives (focused on mangrove, seagrass, marsh and seaweed) which could lead to carbon credits, and/or tools in finance, education and training that improve trust and transparency in the blue carbon market.
There's a huge opportunity to prioritise projects that benefit indigenous, local communities and biodiversity. The solutions exist but we need to focus our energies on making change happen now, before it's too late.
2. Women as climate leaders
"We have to start valuing, community-based knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge"
Climate change is unequivocally a threat to all humanity but not everyone is affected or at risk to the same extent. Women are 14 times more likely to die in a climate-rated disaster than men. Those living in low and middle-income countries bear the brunt of caring responsibilities, looking after children and elderly relatives, in incredibly challenging conditions.
Kahea Pacheco, co-executive director of the Women's Earth Alliance, says "They are often tasked with finding food and providing energy for cooking and all of those things become worse and become harder to do when dealing with climate impacts and when dealing with environmental justice."
Too often these women are ignored but they are uniquely positioned to contribute to solutions that work best for their communities. They understand better than anyone what could make a real difference and offer a fresh perspective on how to achieve meaningful impact.
Pacheco explains, "We have to start valuing, community-based knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge on the same playing field as we value Western knowledge and science. Because I think there's a power dynamic there. And I think that not valuing it equally is one of the reasons that entities don't think to partner with communities first and foremost."
Have you read?
3. Africa has a pivotal role to play
"Africa must chart its sustainability ambitions at COP27"
Caroline Parker, Managing Director, Strategic Communications, FTI Consulting South Africa
Dr. Martin Porter, Senior Advisor for Sustainability at FTI Consulting and Executive Chair, Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, Brussels
African nations must use COP27 to present a united vision of their transition path to a climate neutral, sustainable continent that ensures its economies and people are central to potential solutions. This requires building resilience and being compensated fairly for loss or damage, whilst benefitting from economic and social opportunities.
Three important threads inform policy adoption for Africa. First, policy transformation must act as a catalyst for progress and change. Secondly, policy harmonisation will facilitate intra-Africa cooperation and regional integration that positions it more powerfully on the world stage.
Finally, optimising global cooperation and partnerships such as with the EU will create initiatives and common agendas based on shared interest. The EU is working to include sustainability considerations into every aspect of finance and support tangible ESG business transformations to attract investors. Investment policies adopted by our own financial institutions must be conducive towards climate change and climate neutrality, while supporting Africa’s just transition.
These steps will help create policy certainty required to secure capital flows to build new sectors while transitioning to a sustainable economy. Robust governance aligned with global standards will be critical, while Africa must not be disadvantaged by principles and frameworks adopted elsewhere in the world.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
Contact us to get involved.
4. Climate 2.0: climate adaptation is key
"Recognizing the dual opportunity of climate adaptation and mitigation"
Peter Herweck, CEO, AVEVA
At COP27, business leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to support accelerating access to clean, affordable and reliable energy for all as part of the solution to current crises. Setting and realizing ambitious decarbonization commitments continues to present an important source of economic opportunity for many businesses and communities.
For example, McKinsey projects growing demand for net-zero offerings can create new value pools, across infrastructure, transport, energy, power and buildings worth more than $12 trillion of annual sales by 2030.
Notwithstanding unwavering commitment to mitigation, it is important to recognize that we are already seeing devastating impacts from climate change across the globe. This includes in African continent, which is responsible for less than 4% of global CO2 emissions but pays one of the highest prices for global warming.
It is time for industry to step up and recognize that adaptation also provides significant opportunity and that we do not need to start from scratch to support its realization. Applying lessons learned from our net-zero journeys, using our business mindset and growing digital tools, we can identify a path forward, and build the collaboration we need to take us to a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future. Are you with us?