COP28 needs to show action not words for business, finance leaders


UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn

A view of the United Nations Climate Change Conference flags at the venue, in Bonn, Germany, June 6, 2023. REUTERS/Jana Rodenbusch//File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

  • A little less conversation, a little more action -GRI CEO
  • Do more to roll out renewables in Asia – HSBC’s Herweijer
  • Need to see a sense of urgency – Roche’s Hoffmann

LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Less talk and more action on decarbonising the energy system should be the main focus of world leaders at the next round of climate talks, speakers at the Reuters IMPACT conference said.

November’s COP28 conference in Dubai is seen as a crucial opportunity for governments to accelerate action to limit global warming and preserve nature, yet to-date most countries are nowhere close to reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

“What we want to see, all of us, is a real sense of urgency about reducing CO2 emissions,” Roche Vice-Chair Andre Hoffmann said.

“We are going to get to (a) position where we really need to show results. We need to show action, and I’m not sure that what I’ve read so far of the COP28 will be strong enough for that.”

Speaking on a separate panel on Thursday, Eelco van der Enden, chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative agreed: “I would suggest that they stick to the words of the late and great American philosopher Elvis Presley: a little less conversation, a little more action.”

Despite rapidly falling prices for renewable energy, Roche’s (ROG.S) Hoffmann said much faster action was needed.

“This is not just the time for good intentions, it’s a time for decarbonising our energy production system.”

With cutting edge climate tech such as sucking carbon out of the air set to play a big role in the discussions in Dubai, Celine Herweijer, chief sustainability officer at HSBC (HSBA.L) said it was important to remember there was more to be done to increase the use of renewable energy.

“Its great talking about all these innovations and new technologies but we’ve got a lot of even the mature stuff to role out at scale,” Herweijer said, including in countries in Asia where she said there was “huge growth in energy demand”.

Eight years after a landmark deal in Paris saw countries agree to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the first major ‘stock-take’, due to be released on Friday, was likely to fall far short of what was needed, speakers at the Reuters IMPACT event said.

“It’s not going to be positive, it’s going to be very gloomy. And actually many people going to Dubai will be in a very gloomy mood,” said Andrew Steer, chief executive of the Bezos Earth Fund, the world’s biggest climate philanthropy.

Despite that, Steer said there was cause for optimism, particularly if governments embraced the need for, and opportunities that would open up by, “smart, bold action”.

“You’ll have greater economic efficiency, you will drive new technologies, you will lower risk and you will reshape expectations about the future. And those four things combined can lead to a lot of dynamism.”

“If the change is going to be that big then financial institutions, business people will reshape and they’ll say my goodness there’s going to be new technological institutions, there’s going to be new factories, there’s going to be a new economy. I want to help drive that, that’s where the money is.”

To view the live broadcast of the Road to COP Stage go to the Reuters IMPACT news page:

Additional reporting by Richa Naidu, Gloria Dickie, Clara Denina, Iain Withers and Helen Reid; Editing by Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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