City of London to offer a bridge between Cop27 and Cop28

Chris Hayward warns that the prospect of 1.5ºC is still alive but it's on life support

The City of London hopes to give the world's poorest economies the ability to address the climate crisis through finance. EPA
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The Cop27 Egyptian presidency and the City of London Corporation are to join forces to host a Net Zero Delivery Summit in May.

The summit will seek to ensure the financial services industry can strengthen its commitment to keep global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

The date is the halfway point between the end of Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November and the Cop28 meeting in 2023 in the UAE.

It will bring together leaders of finance, business, government and other institutions from around the world.

Chris Hayward, policy chairman of the corporation, told The National that the meeting would seek to promote the climate finance focus on Africa and emerging nations that was seen in Egypt, and planning for the UAE meeting. The overall theme is a "just transition".

"We're focusing very much on ensuring that climate action works for everybody in a just and a fair way," Mr Hayward said.

"The idea of the Net Zero Delivery Summit is that it comes exactly halfway between the two Cops.

"What we have to do is to keep the pressure on in terms of action. The prospect of 1.5ºC is still alive but it's on life support.

"We're not moving fast enough and we're not getting the money to where it needs to be fast enough.

"I think our focus in the in the West, in the global north as it were, is how we get those funds out to those countries most in need. Because if we don't do that, then we will fail to tackle net zero by 2050."

One of the achievements of the Cop26 climate meeting in the UK in 2021 was the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (Gfanz), which committed firms with $130 trillion under management to backing net-zero goals.

The City of London sees itself as a leader in getting the financial industry into a position to deliver on those promises.

"We must keep Gfanz together," Mr Hayward said. "It's absolutely essential that we act with one voice and one purpose.

"I think it's incumbent upon not just the City of London, but all of us in the financial services sector in the United Kingdom to stand behind those Gfanz commitments and those Gfanz 550 companies.

"We can't afford the [alliance] fraying. It is a dynamic situation. But I think we need to just make sure collectively we keep our messaging on course, not least because we in the City of London regard ourselves as the global capital for green finance.

"Green finance policies are a key tool to driving this whole Cop and climate action agenda."

The summit planners want to prioritise the advantages of technology so that data that could track the changing climate is properly exploited.

"One of the challenges we face at the moment is there is inadequate data, which is consistent across the globe to meet the standards that we need to achieve," Mr Hayward said.

"We have to ensure that there is adequate credible data flow in order to establish global standards.

"Otherwise we'll end up really feeding greenwashing and other methods that frankly are undermining the process.

"We need better data and we need global standards, so that everybody is being measured against the same standards and there are not inconsistencies across the globe."

By unlocking the power of finance, the City hopes to give the world's poorest economies the ability to address the climate crisis.

"The challenge for the emerging markets in Africa and India is a huge need for investment in infrastructure projects," Mr Hayward said.

"What we have in the City of London is the critically important capital flows and we have expertise. We have expertise in things like project management.

"So when you're looking at these huge infrastructure projects in emerging markets, you know, the City of London could provide that expertise as well as finance."

The prospect of Cop28, due to open in Dubai Expo City in November 2023, is regarded by Mr Hayward as an opportunity to unlock the Emirates for a world seeking to adapt to the pressures addressed by the 2015 Paris Accord.

"Certainly from what I I've read, the UAE is really leading the way around climate action," he said.

"There's a commitment, I understand, to have 50 per cent of UAE electricity generated from renewables by 2050. That's an ambitious and a fantastic target.

"The practical steps the UAE is taking are climate action in practice, rather than just in words. So I think the UAE are to be absolutely commended for this, and I think it makes a great country to host the next Cop."

The May summit is modelled on an inaugural meeting in the City's Mansion House headquarters this year that featured speakers including the US special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, and the UN special envoy on climate action and finance, Mark Carney.

The Square Mile has its own climate action plans to reduce emissions from its properties down to net zero by 2027. Primarily, the focus is on medium-term energy-efficiency work on buildings.

Carbon emissions have already been cut by more than 30 per cent on 2018 levels.

Energy consumption has been reduced by more than 20 per cent, with transport and buildings representing the two biggest emitters.

There are more than 600 listed buildings in the Square Mile that require some additional investment.

Updated: December 20, 2022, 7:55 AM