By Justin Perrettson, Chair of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy

As we turn from New York and the UN General Assembly and the hundreds of associated events across the spectrum of sustainability and climate issues, and towards Glasgow and the forthcoming COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, this has never been truer.

Nor has it been more relevant, not just for the business community, but for society as a whole. The scale of changes needed to ensure that the world is placed on – and stays on – a trajectory where global warming is held at 1.5 degrees Celsius means that the role of the private sector in driving new innovation, investment, infrastructure, new energy, food and agricultural systems, new IT and digital solutions to name just a few examples, is essential.

And this goes to the heart of why Glasgow is so important. Because if Glasgow is successful, it could be the start of a revolution that will change everything we see and recognize today, much as the industrial revolution did several centuries ago.

For those following events and keynote speeches in New York, there were signs of hope – from an increase in Climate Financing towards the “100 billion” a year for developing and emerging economies, to some important steps forward on the phasing out of coal. And there were also signs of the seriousness with which COP26 is understood by world leaders, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson whose Government act as host country referring to it as the ‘turning point for humanity’.

And it is against this backdrop that ICC will not only participate at COP26, but lead.

ICC is the focal point for all business and industry towards the UNFCCC, the official United Nations body responsible for Climate Change. Among business organizations, it remains unique in terms of bringing the voice of the real economy to the international climate change negotiations – by deploying the expertise of its National Committees, member companies and the whole ICC network to provide advice and technical input to the discussion on different key issues and also help business, understand the complex, complicated negotiations and translate outcomes into business realities, strategies and action.

As my own organization, Industrial Biotechnology Leader Novozymes, working with ICC has been one of the contributing factors to help inform our own climate journey. This has continued to move forward in recent years; for example, achieving a 46 percent reduction of absolute CO2 emissions from our global operations between 2018 and 2020 and phasing out fossil fuels at our largest production site. And perhaps just as important is Novozymes’ understanding at all levels, that climate action is a journey, across supply and value chains, and for all businesses – large and small.

Recently, and thanks to ICC, I had the very great pleasure to be introduced to a young and entrepreneurial start-up from the Netherlands, and to talk to their CEO. What struck me the most when talking to him, was how he and his organization had gone about ‘hard wiring’ climate change action into a completely new business. Literally everything from the vision behind it, to its business model, its supply chains, sales and marketing. This type of future proofing and competitive advantage in the real economy, and in an SME, is the kind of positive, can-do-will-do message that the business community can help bring to COP26 to encourage and support the negotiations.

And for those who have attended and followed the COP process over many years, that kind of optimism and determination will be key ingredients to help reach successful outcomes. The context and backdrop for the COP is clear, with the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighting once again the urgency for strong and decisive action, and outcomes.

Glasgow will need to reach an end point on a series of items, including the ‘Paris Rulebook’ to give the necessary structure to support its full implementation, and the operating mechanisms for ‘carbon markets’. Additionally, countries must agree on an architecture for climate finance and governments’ Nationally Determined Contributions, national climate pledges, will need to be enhanced as part of 5-year review cycles. Furthermore, we will see a number of sector and issue-specific discussions reach their initial conclusions, such as work on agriculture, which has also featured during this years’ UN General Assembly as part of the UN Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit.

And once the necessary policy frameworks are in place and full implementation of Paris begins, it will need to exist in a world of cross-border, global trade, and in a changing and changed economy. The role of business, large or small, governments and all stakeholders in ensuring that future is a fair, inclusive and sustainable one for this as well as future generations, is key.

Bent u geïnteresseerd om lid te worden van bij de ICC Environment & Energy commissie? Neem dan contact op met Geoffroy Feij, feij@icc.nl.