BACA members looking back at COP27 | accelerating corporate climate action
In November '22, COP27 brought together thousands of international representatives from various organizations, to discuss strategies for meeting the 1.5-degree global warming target. More than a handful of BACA members were among them to help accelerate corporate climate action. One month after closing on the final text, we thought it interesting to reach out and get a glimpse of the experiences our members had.
“In the lead-up to the conference, I was looking forward to engaging with other organizations and discussing ways to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy”, says Ms. Op de Beeck. “I also looked forward to learning about the latest developments and innovations in the field”.
Mr. Eriksen shared: “At the onset of the conference, we mainly expected to meet with like-minded companies to discuss how the industry can decarbonize their value-chain without relying on legislation to put things in motion, as well as with political actors and decision makers”. He further added, “The construction industry has a significant role to play in reducing global carbon emissions. It is important for our industry to engage with political actors to ensure that this notion is included in national climate plans”.
For Velux, the agenda was the creation of partnerships with other organizations, to strengthen the focus on climate change issues and to support the construction sector (for example by sponsoring activities organized by the UNEP Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction).
Both interviewees felt that the conference was a valuable opportunity to raise awareness and create connections with other organizations. They agree on the notion that the 1.5-degree target is achievable, but it will require significant effort from and cooperation between businesses and governments.
Ms. Op de Beeck elaborated: “I was inspired by the level of commitment and engagement from the various organizations and individuals attending. One of my personal highlights was the opportunity to participate in various panel discussions, covering topics such as the role of businesses in meeting the 1.5-degree target, the importance of strong leadership and commitment in the transition to a low carbon economy. I believe it was a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the need for businesses and governments to work together to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy”.
Another spark of enthusiasm came with the progress made on the EU’s corporate sustainability reporting directive (EU CSRD). "The EU CSRD is an important step forward in terms of addressing climate change. It sets out a clear accountability framework for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and provides a roadmap for businesses transitioning to a low-carbon economy. This is a critical step in the right direction, and we must continue to work together to implement it and make progress on this issue."
As far as the construction sector is concerned, Mr. Eriksen notes a few important developments, such as a renewed focus on decarbonizing the building industry. "An important step was the creation of scope 3 partnerships to ensure that we are actually on track to meet our climate goals”. “Also, the establishment of the ‘Buildings Breakthrough initiative of the GlobalABC was noteworthy,” Eriksen continued. “And with it, the invitation to countries across the world to participate in a discussion on effectively decarbonizing the construction industry".
After returning from COP27, both representatives expressed at least some degree of disappointment about the progress made on meeting the 1.5-degree limit and phasing out fossil fuels. “This is concerning,” Ms. Op de Beeck says, “and it's clear that we have a long way to go in terms of addressing the challenges posed by climate change." She touched upon the notion of climate anxiety: "The despair tunnel is a real thing. It's easy to feel hopeless when you see the scale of the challenges we face, but it's important to remember that we are all in this together. Only by working together and supporting each other, we can make progress on addressing climate change."
“Despite the progress made, there was a lack of concrete action at the national level,” said Mr. Eriksen. "Buildings are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, so it's crucial that we focus on making buildings energy-efficient and carbon-neutral.”
In this respect, Mr. Eriksen mentioned the importance of science-based emission reduction targets: "SBTs provide a clear, measurable way to track progress on climate action. By setting targets that are in line with the latest scientific data, we can ensure that our efforts are aligned with what is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
Collaboration is key
“I’d like to see more countries joining this event, particularly those with huge construction sectors”, says Mr. Eriksen when asked about recommendations for future COP editions. “It is important that non-state actors, like Velux, can also be brought to the conversation tables. It’s a great way to promote more collaborative action from all sides - state and non-state - and encourage a joint effort in decarbonization”.
Ms. Op de Beeck added: “Crises like the pandemic, the war, or the European energy crisis have proven that implementation processes can be sped up to unlock billions of euros of funds. Governments have demonstrated that they can move quickly.” She continued that this should be translated to the climate crisis as well, and similar quick action should occur. “In doing so, collaboration is key. Businesses and other non-state actors shouldn’t be waiting for governments to mitigate the climate crisis. Only through dialogue between businesses and governments, can there be a pathway towards a carbon neutral future.”
When talking about collaboration, both organisations represented demonstrate – at COP27 and beyond – that they are walking the talk. The Carbon Trust and Velux work together on the topics of value chain footprinting and science-based targets. During COP27, Ms. Op de Beeck and Mr. Erikson collaborated in three panel discussions to highlight how companies across sectors can work with companies like The Carbon Trust to set and meet science-based emission reduction targets, as well as seize opportunities to accelerate innovative solutions the world needs to transition to a low carbon economy.
Thank you both for the interesting debrief!
About the author
Jaffar Abbas is a master student of Sustainability, Society and the Environment (SSE), studying at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitat of Kiel, Germany. He's a Pakistani climate change activist, with a strong research interest in environmental communications. He hopes to do his part in improving the state of the world by working on climate justice.