Following a monumental build-up to the most significant global climate change event of the year, the world leaders have packed their bags, the branding has been taken down, the conference rooms have been cleared. So, what now?
For me, the answer is simple. It’s time to roll our sleeves up.
In the past, a major conference such as COP26 may have been perceived as mere grandstanding – speech, announcement, lunch, repeat. But not anymore. Not when it comes to the future of the planet. We’ve gone beyond that – this is the decade of delivery.
And whilst it’s fair to say that hopes were higher than expectations at the start of the Glasgow gathering, we can be positive about the progress made.
Despite the limited representation from some nations, we saw 90% of the world commit to net zero. We saw a large presence from the private sector and industry eager to put their shoulders to the wheel – the mobilisation of the private sector and the financial community is really encouraging because if we want to turn our climate change ambitions into actions what we need now is public/private collaboration.
I was also heartened to see some important announcements about transparency and disclosure. There's been an inconsistency in standards in the past as well as allegations of greenwashing, whereas at COP26 we saw major authorities coming together to establish clearer direction for companies, in the private sector particularly, and as a result we can expect to see common standards being adopted within the next couple of years. As a Principal Partner of COP26 we want to lead by example so this is a development we welcome with open arms – it’s so important that the companies who are doing the right thing get the recognition.
COP26 saw plenty of progress. But we have so much more left to do. We saw some movement to support developing countries but nowhere near enough and this has to be right at the top of the agenda for COP27 in Egypt next year. We need to better assess the loss and damage of climate change and there needs to be much more support from the developed world to the developing world. We’ve seen the imbalance with the COVID vaccination programme, and the same is true with climate change – whether it’s the global pandemic or the future of the planet, we will only achieve our ambitions if we include everyone. If we don’t help the developing nations, then we’re not going to solve this problem. End of story.
As a social innovation business, we want to power good in the world. In fact, Hitachi’s original company mission set in 1910 was to “contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products”. Today, that means harnessing our expertise and experience to tackle climate change. That’s why we became a Principal Partner of COP26 – that was our stake in the ground but now that the event is over our focus has to be on working with stakeholders to move beyond the pledges and start the action plans for delivery.
Our role at Hitachi is to help the business community better understand how it can create climate change solutions and the importance of partnership to deliver this. We can’t solve this problem on our own and COP26 provided an incredibly valuable platform for us to meet like-minded partners so we can accelerate our collective efforts in the race to net zero. Glasgow generated phenomenal interest across all sections of society but the job now is to get on with it – the event may be over but the real work starts now.
As I reflect on COP26 and the year as a whole, we’ve seen some transformational commitments from governments all over the world – these commitments are the foundation of much of the positive progress we’ve already seen. But the reality is that when it comes to safeguarding the future of the planet, public/private collaboration needs to step up the pace and I genuinely believe COP26 can turbo-charge our efforts. Let’s roll our sleeves up together.