29 Nov

"The race starts" Sally Sudworth, Mott MacDonald

Two weeks after the COP26 climate summit, the serious work of turning intentions into actions has already started.

As they stand, the combined national emissions reduction commitments are not enough to halt global warming at 1.5°C – above which the effects of climate change will have serious, far-reaching economic, social and environmental consequences.

However, emissions reduction pledges by countries and businesses mean that 90% of global GDP is now aligned with net-zero, and put the world on track for less than 2°C of global warming – a point at which it is calculated climate change will become self-perpetuating.

Rich countries promised to double the amount of funding to help developing nations adapt to the physical impacts of climate change. And rules were agreed to create a global carbon market that will provide price-based incentivisation to cut carbon.

The private sector had an unprecedented presence at COP26 and is setting more ambitious agendas for decarbonisation and resilience than government. Businesses see the commercial upsides.

Investors, insurers and engineers are finding new ways to assess and prioritise climate risks; green finance is taking off rapidly and there are early signs that capital will start flowing to resilience projects.

Collaboration was a central theme, producing initiatives to halt deforestation, speed up the shift away from coal, curb methane emissions and accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. There was widespread recognition both decarbonisation and resilience require new levels of co-operation between government, business, labour and society.

There was increased emphasis on the systemic, cross-sector and inter-organisation nature of climate risks and opportunities. Digitalisation increasingly provides the means to identify and manage those risks. Organisations across all sectors of the economy, public and private alike, need to see their own digital transformation as key to unlocking climate transformation.

Sally Sudworth is global lead for sustainability and climate change at Mott MacDonald

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