Three conversations on climate and how they will progress after COP26

Sonja Caymaz

Green business is good business. We know that now, and net-zero targets and the well-documented rise of ESG investing show that businesses are on board.

That’s good, because their role in climate change cannot be understated: the Carbon Majors Report concluded that just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. This month’s COP26 conference sought to ensure that businesses, and governments, finally take responsibility.

Earlier in the year, as the conference approached, our editors discussed some of the key themes and topics in sustainability you may not have thought about, and explained why these conversations on climate would persist long after COP26.

Now that the conference has wrapped up, were they right?

1. The energy transition: Talk is cheap

Gaps and grey areas will emerge as we strive for net zero. Just as many leaders look to their peers for best practice on net-zero strategies, they will also need to update their risk radars: on talent, technology and climate.

The ‘how to’ will now take centre stage, and the organisations that can partner with other businesses in need of support and showcase their success will assume real leadership positions.

Levelling the playing field through the adoption of wider campaigns, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and deforestation pledges, will unite industries and countries and will be key to creating more sustainable supply chains.

2. Transport and cities: The big questions

COP26 brought together governments, businesses and civil society to accelerate the electrification of transport and scale up public and private electric vehicle (EV) fleets. The Zero Emissions Vehicles Transition Council will continue this work into 2022 and beyond to support the roll out of EV charging infrastructure, fuel efficiency standards, job creation and sustainable battery supply chains.

Car manufacturers and investors are both banking on this transition to e-mobility, but net zero will take more than just decarbonising the car. Better rail and public transport will also be crucial to achieving net-zero and making cities more sustainable, and some major infrastructure and mobility players, such as Siemens, are turning to AI to gear up for a new digital decade in transport.

3. Consumers and employees: Newly radicalised?

Consumers are aware of the impact of sustainable choices on everything from reducing waste to carbon emissions. But trust in the energy transition could be wavering as energy market volatility causes price spikes for households in Europe.

Politicians must maintain momentum with support for renewable energy and sustain a dialogue with voters to keep the big picture in mind, instead of succumbing to short-termism.

Now that COP26 is over, brands must think about how the topics they discuss with their audience have been affected and how they will continue to evolve. Spending time with experts – internal or external – to discuss how these conversations on climate have changed could be a vital first step.

Which companies fared well in the run up to COP26? In this article, we review some stand-out campaigns we’ve worked on recently. How did they win the fight for attention?

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About the author: Sonja Caymaz

Sonja joined FT Longitude in 2018, spearheading the focus for the Energy and Industrials sectors. Her expertise spans across the entire energy spectrum from oil & gas to renewables, hydrogen, electrification, e-mobility and smart city development.

Sonja has more than 10 years of experience in journalism and B2B publishing, which helps her craft innovative, insight-led thought leadership campaigns for clients, from inception to launch.

She regularly researches and writes about the energy transition, Industry 4.0, ESG and sustainability topics, and in 2021 was part of the team that won Best Use of Thought Leadership at the B2B Marketing Awards 2021 with Protolabs.

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