28 voices on COP28: What we want from the climate summit (part 2)
EXCLUSIVE: In the second of our two-part special feature, sustainability and climate leaders from the likes of Bupa, Accenture, Formula E and the Environment Agency share their expectations for the upcoming COP28 talks in Dubai this December.
Earlier this year, the UN released its inaugural global stocktake of climate commitments and actions undertaken by governments. The report emphasises the critical need for ‘radical decarbonisation’ and ‘system transformation’ to maintain the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5C.
The urgency of the climate crisis necessitates businesses to leverage their influence positively while striving to make their value chains resilient and achieve net-zero emissions.
As COP28 approaches in Dubai, this feature delves into the insights of 28 leaders, highlighting their perspectives on what can make this summit the most impactful climate conference to date.
This article is the second instalment of a two-part feature; the initial segment, inclusive of viewpoints from DESNZ, Aldersgate Group, Kimberly Clark, CDP and more, can be found here.
- Jean-Marc Ollagnier, chief executive officer, Accenture EMEA:
“There is a lot of ambition from businesses moving towards net-zero but progress on adopting decarbonisation measures is still too slow. We need to walk away from Dubai with a clear framework on how to align supply and demand for decarbonisation solutions to help businesses accelerate their energy transition, particularly in heavy industries.
“For this to happen, energy producers need sufficient demand to scale clean energy and make it economically viable, while customers need sufficient volumes of clean energy to be readily available at a competitive price before they commit to switching. We’ve yet to strike that balance at scale, but COP28 is an opportunity for us to recalibrate the system.”
- John Morton, managing director, Pollination:
“The UAE has much to prove and much to lose at COP. Will they lead on climate, or facilitate the highest-profile greenwashing event in history? Will they drive substantive commitments from the industry that impacts climate change more than any other, or allow fossil fuel interests to trump?
“The UAE must prompt global agreement around the phase down of both methane and carbon emissions. They must elevate food and land use as a climate priority. And they must facilitate a resounding reaffirmation of the critical role that high-integrity carbon markets play in progressing broader net-zero ambitions. Time is running out.”
- Santhosh Jayaram, global head of sustainability, HCLTech:
“The global stocktake should be seen as a measure of ambition and accountability of the collective will we have as humankind in protecting our future generations. This stocktake will set a precedent for the following stocktake as to whether it is done as a routine health check-up or done as a course correction. Creating an actionable roadmap to address the findings of the stocktake must be the priority at COP28.
“Water is a vital topic, along with addressing the challenge of food scarcity. While COP27 ensured a good start to these discussions, it fell short of a transition towards sustainable food systems, and I would like to see a deeper dive into it at COP28.”
- Ben Tolhurst, director, Business Declares:
“A successful COP28, in my view, would involve a total phase out of fossil fuels. We have to work on our way to make that happen, and I know that it isn’t easy and that there are a lot of complexities, difficulties, awkwardness, money and all of that involved, but right now we are in an existential crisis.
“We cannot keep going the way we are going. So, a phase out of fossil fuels and global protection of nature. We are depleting our nature, our natural biosphere and ecological systems at an alarming rate. We cannot survive without a healthy nature system. Those are the two things we need to achieve at COP.”
- Charles Perry, founder, Sustainable Future for All:
“I think to get clarity that this is the end of the fossil fuel era. It is not about fossil fuel emissions. It is actually fossil fuel industry and behaviour. It is coming to an end, and the only way to really move forward into a sustainable future is to bring this era to an end.
“COP28 really needs to show that whether we call it phase-down or phase-out, this is the moment to get everyone to agree that fossil fuels are coming to an end. There are alternatives that are much better, achievable, cleaner, more widespread and more available. We need to move on from fossil fuels.”
- Louise Harman, partner, Bates Wells:
“In my view, a successful COP28 would be all Governments, internationally, pledging to phase out fossil fuels and setting a clear date by which they are going to that.”
- Yishan Wong, chief executive officer, Terraformation:
“At COP28, urgency is paramount. The voluntary carbon market needs to rebuild broken frameworks and salvage its eroded trust and integrity. New mechanisms with greater transparency and quality, reassuring funders supporting nature-positive initiatives, must happen. However, buyers have been skirting carbon credit’s true costs.
“There’s no room for cutting corners when it comes to climate: it is not about balancing a ledger but catalysing real foundational projects. This COP, we’re calling for a market focused on enabling restoration of biodiverse forests; they are lifelines for communities and the planet itself. Our future hangs in the balance, and we must act now.”
- Kathryn Ebrey, group senior sustainability manager, Bupa:
“For Bupa, success at COP28 would be the acknowledgement that the climate crisis is also a public health crisis, and that’s very much what our work at Bupa focuses on.
“At this COP, for the first time ever, there is a health day, so ultimately, it would be great for us to use that as an opportunity to push the fact that climate crisis does impact people’s health. They are both interrelated and a wider recognition of that is going to be really helpful.”
- Julie Gallacher, head of sustainability & responsibility, Chivas Brothers Ltd:
“For me, success would be less talk, more action, and also to hope that the fossil fuel companies wake up to the reality and start truly getting behind renewables.”
- Georgia Phillips, head of impact & sustainability, Pukka Herbs:
“I’d really like to see some clear, ambitious, and much more confident action being taken by Governments across the world.
“There’s a huge opportunity for more collaboration and more partnerships as Governments tackle some of these challenges together.”
- Julie Furnell, managing director, Mobilityways:
“A successful COP has to include policy around sustainable travel. We want to make sure that we are firmly on the agenda. Carbon emissions account for 5% of all of UK’s emissions.
“If we as a country can start on the right path then hopefully we can influence the rest of the countries to do the same.”
- Iona Neilson, senior sustainability manager, Formula E:
“In the electric vehicle (EV) territory, [we need] more policy, more investment in infrastructure. At Formula E, we are all about accelerating the awareness and uptake of EVs, but to do that we need positive sentiment, investment in the infrastructure and subsidies to support that.
“Manufacturers are with us. We just need the Government to be with us as well.”
- Rahul Mohan, net-zero carbon lead, Environment Agency:
“I think success at COP28 would include a couple of big ones: an agreement on the phasing down of fossil fuels and progress on the Loss and Damage Fund.”
- Sandrine Ricard, sustainability & responsibility deputy director, Pernod Ricard UK:
“An actual commitment on the phasing out of fossil fuel and helping fund projects such as new technologies as well.”