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Hitachi Sustainability

15 December 2021

COP26 Review: Playing Our Part in the Partnership

As a social innovation business with a proud 111 year heritage of “powering good”, the opportunity to become a Principal Partner of COP26 was simply too good to miss.

But, as the word suggests, if you want to be a true partner, you need to play your part. And that’s why our approach to the biggest global climate change event of the year was to back up our commitment with actions.

November saw the largest COP to date – 120 world leaders, 50,000 registered delegates, 38,000 participants representing 195 countries, and 287,000 views for COP26 YouTube channel live stream events. So, the stage was set. Here’s how we played our part:

• We hosted seven high-profile Hitachi-led events
• We took part in ten panel sessions
• We met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, HRH The Duke of Cambridge and COP26 President Alok Sharma
• We conducted seven major media interviews and five media briefings
• We generated over 1 million impressions across social platforms

But quite frankly, all of this will have been a waste of time if COP26 is not the start rather than the end of these conversations. COP26 represented an incredibly valuable platform for us to meet like-minded partners so we can accelerate our collective efforts in the race to net zero, but our focus now has to be on working with stakeholders to move beyond the pledges and start the action plans for delivery.

One of the defining features of COP26 was the mobilisation of the private sector and the financial community. This is vital because the key to the energy transition lies in public-private partnerships which convert government commitments into actual projects that the private sector can deliver.

If policy makers establish the right regulatory frameworks and roadmaps like we’ve seen in Italy and the UK, private sector businesses will be ideally placed to unleash best-in-class R&D projects backed by the required financial support. This is how public-private cooperation will deliver a net zero society.

As a Principal Partner of COP26, we can play our part, but we can’t do it on our own. Consider the future of cities, for example. At Hitachi we’re involved in all aspects of city development – everything from the transport infrastructure between cities, to the supply of electricity within them and mobility programmes that keep them moving in green and efficient ways. We’re a major metro provider of transport and the control systems behind it.But to power the cities of the future the grid needs to double in size – we have the expertise to do this, but to succeed, it has to be done in partnership with municipalities and other stakeholders.

In the UK, we’re right at the heart of the world’s largest commercial electric vehicle trial to date through a project called Optimise Prime. We’re collaborating with Royal Mail, Uber, UK Power Networks, Centrica and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and ultimately this three-year trial will inform the UK government on how best to develop its EV infrastructure.

Just recently we’ve been awarded the highest score of “Grade A” by global environmental non-profit charity CDP for our work in tackling climate change and acting to protect water security as part of our Hitachi Environmental Innovation 2050 Plan to help realise a more sustainable society. These types of projects can only realise their true potential when the public and private sectors come together.

On the back of COP26 we have some positive momentum. But the hard work is ahead of us. History will judge us on what we do next.

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