How COP28 can shape greener B2B communications

Last updated: 20th December 2023

The Marketing Pod takes a look at COP28 announcements and highlights how decisions made there could affect B2B businesses and sustainability communications here.

The team at The Marketing Pod is taking a look at announcements from COP28 to guide you through what’s come out of the discussions and how decisions made there will start to impact businesses and their sustainability communications here in the UK.  

The 28th annual UN Climate Change Conference opened in Dubai on 30 November. The two-week event brought together more than 100,000 delegates from 199 countries across the globe for intense talks on climate mitigation, adaptation, and how participating nations can best honour the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Ten key announcements from COP28:

  • Landmark deal to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels – the first time this has been explicitly agreed 
  • $725 million pledged to the Loss and Damage Fund
  • 50 oil and gas companies committed to cutting emissions from their operations by 2050
  • 110 Heads of State agreed to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 
  • Fossil fuel emissions are projected to hit an all-time high this year
  • Researchers unveil Global Tipping Points Report
  • UK and Brazil aim to accelerate the development of low-emission hydrogen
  • First Movers Coalition for Food pledge launched
  • UK commits £85 million to tackle deforestation and cut methane emissions
  • ?Azerbaijan chosen to host COP29

COP28 and commitments made here by world leaders are likely to have a significant impact on UK businesses, influencing strategies in several ways. Here is how some key announcements made so far could impact B2B businesses, their sustainability communications and green strategies in the future.

Businesses should explore green technology to reduce emissions

Across many of the talks and discussions held over the past two weeks, one message that persisted until the end is the need to phase out fossil fuels, with the Global Carbon Budget revealing that fossil fuel emissions are projected to hit an all-time high this year, a total of 40.9 billion tonnes. To mitigate this stark reality, more than 110 countries promised to triple world renewable energy use by 2030 and fifty top oil and gas companies have pledged to cut carbon emissions from operations by 2050. COP28 also saw a landmark agreement to transition away from fossil fuels – the first time this has been explicitly mentioned.

Businesses will likely need to follow suit and consider adopting green technology to reduce their carbon footprint. As António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN noted, “we have the technologies to avoid the worst of climate chaos – if we act now.” 

To demonstrate their commitment to achieving net zero emissions, businesses will need to strengthen their sustainability messaging by illustrating how they plan to move away from fossil fuels and explore existing technologies to reduce emissions within their operations. Communicating these strategies will strengthen a business’s position with future and existing customers as a sustainable brand supported by action.

Opportunities for businesses to collaborate on climate solutions

At COP28, several deals have been made, including a joint venture between the UK and Brazil to create a collaborative platform that aims to accelerate the development of low-emission hydrogen. Additionally, energy firms RWE and Masdar have agreed to invest up to £11 billion in the UK’s Dogger Bank wind farm. 

On a smaller scale, there are opportunities for businesses to collaborate on climate solutions, such as developing new technologies, forming partnerships with other businesses or organisations, and participating in industry-wide initiatives. This provides businesses with a chance to progress with renewable innovation and collaborate in areas that could combine specialised technology and expertise to support the national energy transition.

Demand for sustainability will keep growing

Demonstrators were keen to point out that over two thousand lobbyists representing fossil fuel companies registered for COP28. Research from Clean Creatives has also revealed that some PR agencies are promoting the climate conference while simultaneously representing fossil fuel companies. This sends a clear message that people want businesses to distance themselves from fossil fuels and see their role as an energy source phased out.

As customers become increasingly concerned about fossil fuels, businesses should take proactive steps to make their organisations more environmentally conscious. B2B businesses in particular need to get ahead of the curve by implementing a clear sustainability messaging strategy based on transparent reporting and achievable yet impactful targets. This will prepare them for when their customers begin to review their supply chains to align with greener businesses.

Focus on transparency and clear reporting

Businesses will need to focus on transparency in their communications and reporting in the coming years. This is also true for nations attending COP events. This was the first year a global stocktake was published, analysing initiatives and actions of nations towards the Paris Agreement. Going forward, according to the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, COP events will become more transparent, leading up to COP30. At COP30, every commitment, including finance, adaptation, and mitigation, must be in line with a 1.5-degree world. 

New introductions include Biennial Transparency Reports that highlight an individual nation’s progress. Stiell also announced a new Finance Goal from COP29, which will be held in Azerbaijan, and from early 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions. 

As the demand for net zero plans to become more accessible and transparent, businesses must start preparing now. They need to understand their responsibilities and requirements to report on their progress towards zero emissions. It’s also important to establish clear, honest and attainable goals that span across operations and whole supply chains, as businesses and their impact are being looked at in greater detail.

It’s also significant to highlight the reasons behind your green strategies within any marketing or communication plans. A lot of B2B branding talks about what the company is doing as well as how, but it’s less common for brands to talk about why. With the likelihood of more businesses developing robust plans for net zero, there is an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate core green values.

Evolving regulatory landscape

The entire COP28 event is focused on bringing about environmental and social commitments that will result in legislative changes in each country. Based on the current announcements made, we can begin to anticipate more legislation supporting a green agenda might be implemented, which will affect how businesses could consume energy.

For instance, the agreement to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 came at the same time as a report which showed that new policies are required to overcome barriers to the adoption of renewables. We are already witnessing more initiatives and legislation to support renewable energy and wind power. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that more will follow in the next few years to support these commitments. 

Businesses may begin to see new legislation in the coming years that encourages them to opt for wind power or renewable energy over fossil fuels as we draw closer to 2030. Therefore, organisations must start to assess how their operations could convert to more sustainable energy now, and outline plans to phase out emissions and communicate that effectively with stakeholders.

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