The world is watching

For two weeks from October 31st, 2021, the eyes of the world will be turned towards the city of Glasgow, Scotland, for it is here that leaders and decision makers from some 200 countries will converge on the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Under the presidency of the UK, the conference will be the first time that parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement – the much-celebrated international treaty on climate change – are expected to commit to enhanced Net Zero ambitions.

James Murray is editor-in-chief of BusinessGreen, the UK’s leading source of information for the green economy and speaking with Energy, Oil & Gas he discusses the importance of COP26. “This is – without question – a hugely significant event for the world as a whole,” he says. “What the Paris Agreement did do was trigger a big wave of Net Zero targets, of Government’s ramping up their respective climate policies, and of almost all of the world’s largest businesses setting goals for full decarbonization. Now, five years on, COP26 will provide the platform for the first proper stock take of the progress made to date, allow for countries to recommit to various climate policies and goals, and hopefully unlock further investment in areas such as carbon markets. This makes COP26 a pivotal first test to see whether the Paris Agreement is actually working as it was designed to do so or not, and a massive opportunity to up the pace of action globally.”

Before COP26 begins, and by the time of this piece going to press, James will be taking stock of the results of the second annual Net Zero Festival. Launched by BusinessGreen in 2020, the event provides a showcase for the projects and innovations that are driving the Net Zero transition, while also allowing for the exploration of both the challenges and opportunities associated with the green industrial revolution.

Speaking days before the start of 2021’s edition of the Net Zero Festival, James noted: “As the world’s leading Net Zero focused event, the festival will bring together many of the preeminent climate experts and inspiring business leaders. Our aim with the Net Zero Festival is to showcase and celebrate the best strategies and innovations supporting the transition, while also providing businesses with the information they need to enact and deliver upon their own goals. We do so by talking a lot about the big investment and technological opportunities involved in moving faster towards Net Zero, as well as challenges that come with this, such as how one goes about building the relevant business case, how to drive progress, how to engage with the public, and how to cement the understanding that there is now a larger, growing business community that is committed to accelerating the transition to Net Zero.”

Keynote speakers at the festival included the likes of MP and President for COP26, The Rt Hon Alok Sharma, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd, NatWest Chief Executive Alison Rose, and Emeritus Professor of Chemistry – University of Cambridge, Sir David King. They were joined by numerous green business experts, including Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard, CEO of The Co-operative Group Steve Murrells, and Marks and Spencer’s sustainable business director Mike Barry.

As significant an event as COP26 will be, it is also just another stepping off point along the world’s journey towards what we all hope will be a more sustainable, environmentally aware future. This is a fact not lost upon by James, and indeed many, many others. “One thing that is absolutely critical to realize and understand – and that I think is actually often missed – is that the pursuit of

Net Zero is now the standard global economic strategy for most nations – including many of the big emerging countries – with two-thirds of the world’s economy now covered by such targets. Frankly, this had to become the case, otherwise the planet will ultimately see the second half of this century being defined by a rapidly escalating climate crisis.

“So, in the space of literally a matter of years, the entire concept of pursuing Net Zero emissions has become normalized in boardrooms and cabinet offices in all four corners of the globe. The aspiration, therefore, clearly exists, and the next step is making this a reality, and that is hugely challenging. This will be, after all, the fastest, most wide-ranging industrial revolution in human history, not to mention the most consequential, and one of, if not the most defining business, economic and political trends of the next three decades.”

This undoubtedly makes for an incredibly exciting period of time in our planet’s history, and one where the need to showcase and celebrate the efforts being made by a growing community committed to making Net Zero a reality has never been more important.

BusinessGreen is the UK’s leading source of information for the green economy, delivering the latest news and in-depth analysis on green business and environmental issues. It is on a mission to accelerate a net zero transition to unlock a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable future for the global business community. Its vision is to inform, connect, and inspire people as they navigate the green industrial revolution.

Net Zero Festival
The Net Zero Festival was launched by BusinessGreen in 2020 to provide a showcase for the projects and innovations that are driving the net zero transition and to be a unique forum in which to explore the immense challenges and opportunities associated with the green industrial revolution.