After COP25 - looking for a ray of hope for 2020 (and beyond) - PKF Francis Clark
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After COP25 – looking for a ray of hope for 2020 (and beyond)

I expect many of you were like me and were anticipating surely the world leaders at COP25 would see the importance and urgency of the matter before them, or at least would see that political climate was finally changing and that caring for the environment was a vote winner, and show some true leadership on this issue and reach an agreement to progress words into tangible actions.

COP25 – political stalemate?

But it would appear not judging by the headlines and soundbites, including:

  • COP25 was meant to tackle the climate crisis. It fell short In-Depth-CNN International-15 Dec 2019; and,
  • “I am disappointed with the results of COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general

“Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future”

And to be honest, I almost failed in my search to obtain (good) news on business driven initiatives to fill the COP25 vacuum left by governments.  My one ray of sunshine from news around COP25 was a piece on “At COP 25, Corporate Climate Movement Grows as New Companies Announce Plans to Align with a 1.5°C Future”.  Headlines:

  • 177 companies have pledged to set highly ambitious emissions reduction targets to help limit the worst effects of climate change — more than doubling in size since the first group of early movers was announced at the UN Climate Action Summit in September.
  • As part of the “Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future” campaign, new signatories have pledged to set climate targets that align with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
  • The 177 companies collectively represent over 5.8 million employees, spanning 36 sectors and with headquarters in 36 countries. The companies have a combined market capitalization of over US$2.8 trillion, and represent annual direct emissions equivalent to the annual total CO2 emissions of France.
  • The companies are committed to setting science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which independently assesses corporate emissions reduction targets in line with what climate scientists say is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement
  • The companies are joined by a group of investors managing close to US$4 trillion in assets who have committed to converting their investment portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050 through the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, in addition to over 50 companies in the fashion industry that have committed to align with a 1.5ºC future through the Fashion Pact.

More details of Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the pledge can be via the United Nations Global Compact.

COP26 – Glasgow

A lot, I feel is riding on the next COP meeting which is in Glasgow in November 2020.  Let’s hope that our leaders use the next 10 months to appreciate that this issue is bigger than individual countries and start to work as one.  I know one of my colleagues is planning to travel to Glasgow and if he does make it up there I will of course be debriefing him on matters especially pertinent for businesses in the South West.

Back to 2019 and hopes for 2020

As I am sure you are all too aware, 2019 saw more data hit the news on the effects of climate change and related matters including –

And those of you who have read reports such as Sterns (2006!) will appreciate changes in our climate and/or our biodiversity and/ or sea levels have economic (and social) consequences for us all…

2019 also saw the explosion of social movements such as Extinction Rebellion and School Strike for Climate.

Let us hope that 2020 sees politicians and more businesses place the environment at the centre of their plans.

On this front, I am aware that our Truro office (the office in which I am based) will be trying to reduce its carbon footprint in 2020 and have a meeting with meeting scheduled with Tevi in January 2020 to kick start the process.  I will look to share any easy win initiatives with our business contacts through this blog and/ or at events focused on “green business” – the first of these is likely to be my March 2020 breakfast seminar – watch this space for more details but I am hoping that we can hear from Cornwall Council on their Climate Emergency Plan and a leading business.

On the renewables side (arguably currently the firm’s most direct engagement with the environment) I know our specialist team have been incredibly busy in 2019 and the expectation is that this will continue into 2020 are the economics of wind and solar continue to improve and anaerobic digestion gains traction.  Also, lest we forget our specialist team placed themselves right at the leading edge with their work for Eden Geothermal Limited.

By Andrew James

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