n the words of the COP27 President, the Conference “[was] an opportunity to showcase unity against an existential threat that we can only overcome through concerted action and effective implementation.”
But how much progress was really made in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt? What does the Conference and its announcements mean in the short, medium, and long term? A mixed report card is probably the most accurate assessment – with some progress – but a huge gap between the action now required and the reality in 2022.
Only a few days after COP27, the link between net zero and a growing economy was worryingly missing from the Prime Minister’s speech to delegates at the CBI Conference in Birmingham – a missed opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the transition, and most importantly, highlight that the transition to net zero can be an economic driver rather than a drain on resource.
The short-comings in previous post-COP agreements show that far more needs to be done with those working on the ground. Guto Davies, head of policy at EIC
Returning to COP27, two areas stood out in particular.
Firstly, the UK Transition Plan Taskforce Framework which sets out the process which companies must follow to submit net zero plans by the end of 2023. It provides the opportunity for companies based in the UK, including EIC members, to show real leadership in this area.
Conversations in our Climate Change advocacy group have rightly focused on the role of members in the transition and there is an acknowledgement that implementation of the TPT Framework could be challenging, particularly as we consider the ongoing macro-economic challenges. The clients our members work with often have high ambitions when it comes to climate change and the transition, but in reality few will be able to meet the criteria in full. We will also need to ensure that resource earmarked to develop and deliver these plans.
Secondly, we saw the release of ISO Net Zero Guidelines, which will underpin subsequent net zero standards. This is a significant step which provides a foundation for what good net zero process and governance looks like. The Guidelines, “provide a common reference for collective efforts, offering a global basis for harmonising, understanding, and planning for net zero for actors at the state, regional, city and organisational level.”
The global political process continues to play a huge role in net zero, however the short-comings in previous post-COP agreements show that far more needs to be done with those working on the ground. Our sector has long led by example and worked to achieve meaningful progress – our expertise will be needed over the coming months as we move from political ambition to tangible and practical reality.
This blog orignally appeared as an article in Infrastructure Intelligence's magazine. Guto Davies is Head of Policy at the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC).