COP26 Wrap-Up: Charting the Path from Pledges to Results

December 3, 2021 Dawen Nozdryn-Plotnicki

In the wake of COP26, which wrapped up on November 13th—24 hours behind schedule after going into overtime—countries and organizations around the world are now tasked with translating promises into action.

Recognizing that the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement is not being met, this year’s summit aimed to accelerate efforts to combat climate change. Over the course of two weeks, summit participants committed to measures including phasing down coal power, reducing methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, mobilizing private capital for climate action, and ending deforestation.

A Long Way to Go

Both participants and pundits agree that while COP26 resulted in some progress in the fight against climate change, the pledges made at the summit do not go far enough.

In 2021 alone, we’ve experienced extreme weather events across the globe with alarming frequency, from severe storms and flooding to drought and wildfires, and rapidly rising sea levels putting island nations at risk.

At COP26, Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe memorably illustrated the imminent danger facing his and other Pacific Island nations by delivering his address to the conference while standing knee-deep in seawater. Photograph: Tuvalu Foreign Ministry/Reuters

Failing to hit our climate targets will only lead to more severe impacts, and every degree—and half-degree—matters.

Faced with these dire consequences, participating countries have been asked to return to the table at COP27 in Egypt next November with more aggressive commitments to reducing emissions over the next decade. This departure from past COP practice, which required updated targets every 5 years, clearly demonstrates the urgent need to better measure and predict the impact of climate-related initiatives. As a consequence, governments, regulators, and investors are moving rapidly to adopt more progressive climate policy.

The Path Forward

While there is no silver bullet solution to the climate crisis, a combination of consistent policy, innovation, and significant, targeted investment will be key to limiting global warming. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that a total of $5 trillion per year of investment is required for the next 30 years to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. This unprecedented level of climate-focused investment will require both public and private funding (such as the $1 trillion US infrastructure bill and the recently announced $130 trillion in private capital from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ))—with stakeholders demanding industry move quickly to improve existing infrastructure, adopt new, innovative technologies, and demonstrate transparently that they are making the right investments at the right time.

From Aspirational to Operational

Industry leaders face a daunting challenge: setting and achieving aggressive goals for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance to contribute meaningfully to net zero, while meeting financial targets and customer, employee, and investor expectations. For many companies, this involves assessing and optimizing tens to hundreds of thousands of competing projects and investment opportunities to ensure the right mix of innovation and sustainability while running today’s business reliably, safely, and cost-effectively.

Which mix of projects will offer the greatest value? When to invest in innovation to evolve and adopt new technologies? When to prioritize maintenance or upgrades to improve the safety and reliability of existing infrastructure?

For electricity, natural gas, water, oil and gas, transportation, and other asset-intensive industries, making these strategic decisions—and being able to justify and stand by them under scrutiny from stakeholders—has never been more challenging. It requires a level of sophistication in decision making that’s impossible to attain with spreadsheets or standalone tools.

The Copperleaf Solution

This is where Copperleaf® can help. The Copperleaf Decision Analytics Solution supports companies managing over $2.3 trillion of critical infrastructure across 25 countries, helping organizations decide where and when to invest in their infrastructure to maximize business performance, manage risk, and realize ESG goals.

In our COP26 series released over the last month, we’ve shared some specific examples of how our clients leverage Copperleaf’s solutions to make consistent, transparent decisions that optimize both capital efficiency and environmental impact:

  • National Grid relies on Copperleaf to drive its sustainability targets and make the best infrastructure investment decisions
  • Anglian Water is on track to achieve its 2030 net-zero goals while reducing capital costs
  • Endeavour Energy has improved the capital efficiency of its investment portfolios, while reducing safety and environmental risks
  • Salt River Project embeds ESG and sustainability goals into its corporate decision-making DNA

For over a decade, the world’s most respected organizations have trusted Copperleaf to help them build plans that manage risk, improve performance, and drive sustainability. If you are ready to take the next step toward making your net-zero goals real, contact us today.

 

About the Author

Dawen Nozdryn-Plotnicki

Dawen is Copperleaf's Managing Director, Americas. She has expertise in building high-performing teams and creating products that put the power of data science into the hands of non-data geeks. Together with her management consulting and computer science background, her focus has always been on bridging technology with business needs to deliver tangible results to clients.

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