Hear Linden Edgell, ERM's Global Sustainability Director, and Matt Haddon, ERM Global Service Line Lead, discuss the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference - COP 27 - the role they see business playing, and the expertise and activities ERM is bringing to the event.

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Learn more about ERM's presence at COP 27

Conversation highlights

What is this year’s COP about?

Linden Edgell (LE):
This year's COP, COP 27 is being dubbed the implementation COP. In COP 26 in Glasgow last year we saw a lot of commitments being made by governments, by investors, by corporates and others. This year’s COP is about okay - is that actually happening? Given it's in Egypt, there's a real demand from the Global South to say - actually we are the parts of the world that are being most impacted by climate change and yet the finance, the policy and the support for us is not there. We want to see that accelerated.

Matt Haddon (MH): One of the things I'm wondering about this COP is, is how much of this is about, you know the big international companies doing something different or is it about them really pushing ahead. But then this move into, as you and I were talking about before adaptation, the real issues of who's on the receiving end of a changing climate.

LE: If you're in other parts of the world where the realities of climate change are impacting your very livelihood, your crops, your ability to move around that, that is very real and the level of finance, of know how, of collaboration of recognition of those issues is not there.

MH: Right. So if I'm a corporate watcher of this, and I think about our clients who are often national and international companies, we probably don't expect to see much change in terms of the policy or momentum agenda for emission reductions and everything that goes with that side of things. But what you're looking for is a change in conversation at least towards - OK, how do we enable more action and more investment into the adaptation and resilience side?

LE: You know to get to the 1.5, you know, the numbers vary but somewhere between 2.7 and 3.4 degrees is the current target if we add up all of those country plans. So we are not on track.

MH: Yeah, exactly. And as you say though that's a ratchet on top of the momentum that we're already seeing. And I think from the from a corporate client perspective, with the last two or three years has been a marked change in that momentum swing. And so I can't see that going backwards. I don't see any of the clients we work with from corporate saying - we're not on this trajectory anymore.

LE: And part of that resiliency is understanding that adaptation, right? If you're in the food industry, if you don't have a very strong focus on adaptation then you've got some problems, right, because just sourcing the basic raw materials that go into that.

What might business be saying at COP 27?

Again, from talking to our colleagues in business who are planning to go and the coalitions that we're part of, important coalitions like We Mean Business and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and so on. On the one hand business will be showing up and in the implementation COP saying these are the things we are doing, these are our investments we are making, these are the things we are delivering on the ground and to really I guess give decision makers confident that business and investors are on board and are actually making the decisions and that that is happening.

MH: And that the policy that they set out, the policy that they've been setting out are actually creating a response in the marketplace.

LE: Yeah. It's on the one hand that they'll be doing that on the other and then they'll also be saying, but to go faster, you know, this is all about scale and acceleration - to go faster and bigger, if you like, and to be investing in some of the emerging markets, this is what we need from you. Someone described to me this week, now they were an engineer, but they just used this term that we're going from science to engineering - that this is what the COP is. And to a degree I agree, right. We need the engineering, we need to know how to actually get things done. What are the battery technologies or the new technologies that we will get electricity at scale, how will we deal with some of the carbon capture and storage questions, et cetera. Now somewhere between the science and the engineering, I think a few other things that need to happen. We need to finance, we also need the will, the political will and the boardroom will to make that happen.

Why are ERM at COP 27?

So ERM has a delegation going, it will be led by our CEO, Tom Reichert. And why we are at COP is, we believe we have a very strong message around implementation. This is what ERM does. We help companies get things done. We help them set their ambition, but I think more importantly, we actually help them figure out where to put their capital, how to make the decisions that are needed and how to actually help their own companies transition, all the change, change management that goes on and Matt perhaps you can give some examples of the sorts of things that we're helping companies actually do.

MH: Yeah, it's a good point, Linden. So I'll give you a couple of examples. One is is we're doing a lot of work to help companies execute all the renewables technologies. So we're doing some really innovative stuff. On the one hand, innovative but also just scaling renewables, whether it's offshore wind to hydrogen, just the simple acts of getting trillions of dollars invested into renewable technology. So we're doing that all the time. We're also doing a lot of work helping companies understand where the new technologies are coming from, when they'll be available, what the economics are, when do, when do their own growth trajectories coincide with those new technologies. So that's an increasingly big thing.

LE: So, in terms of kind of what we're actually doing at COP where we're hosting our own events for example, we've got an event about offshore wind, the focus of that is bringing together stakeholders to see about how can we deploy offshore wind in emerging markets at scale. Any country with a coastline basically can look at offshore wind as part of their energy mix going forward. So, we'll be bringing governments, investors, corporates, project developers, supply chains together to figure that question out.

We also have experts who've been invited onto other panels. We have one of our colleagues who's presenting with the Brazilian Government about and the Food and Agriculture Organization. We have another colleague talking about the fertilizer, the decarbonization of the fertilizer industry with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with U.S. government agencies who are deploying renewables at scale across emerging markets. Our experts will be appearing on all sorts of panels on those topics, demonstrating how we are bringing action throughout the COP time period that bring real insights and again enable people who aren't on the ground in Egypt to access some of that knowledge, that expertise, that on the ground experience.

And then over the COP period we'll also have kind of feedback from our folks on the ground and from our other. But it's around the world describing and bringing to life all the topics. You know there's so much going on but we'll try and bring really pertinent insights to folks in that period and afterwards the debrief going on. So that's the ERM plan at this point in time.