Associate Director for Sustainability, Climate and the Environment, techUK
COP27 was, sadly, not what everyone had wished for. The ‘implementation COP’ saw many countries come to the table with a lot less than what was required as the current global geopolitical situation dampened ambition.
Not all the agreed targets were watered down at COP27, and the consensus is that 1.5 degrees is just about viable following these discussions, but it is clear the bar for action at a national level has been lowered.
Climate in the tech sector
The key takeaway is the need for money to be spent which is why the ‘loss and damage’ mechanism was particularly interesting. If well-funded enough, it should help leverage innovation and new tech that can make a real difference for areas most exposed to climate risks.
However, what does this mean for business and us — the tech sector? Have inflation, mass layoffs in big tech and a big eye on the looming recession dampened the need for climate action? From initial impressions, thankfully not.
For tech, there are clear commercial opportunities as every sector needs to count and cut its carbon.
Why invest in climate action?
Firstly, businesses are not always acting altruistically. Investors, customers, potential customers and regulators are all requiring strong climate ambition before putting money in business pockets. Quite simply, climate action is a condition of winning business; and the firms who recognise this are getting an early mover advantage.
Want to sell to the Government? Show us your Carbon Reduction Plan. Want some investment? Make sure your business aligns with our ESG scorecards. Want to sell into Europe? Follow our disclosure rules. Want to be my supplier? Make sure you sign up for the Race to Zero or have a target in place because we have to.
Cutting emissions in the sector
For tech, there are clear commercial opportunities as every sector needs to count and cut its carbon. Data analytics and carbon emission accounting platforms can make it easier to understand scope one to three emissions for any business — and tech such as AI, IoT, remote sensing and machine learning can automate processes and cut energy. This saves money and carbon, and the World Economic Forum estimates digital tech can cut emissions by 20% across the heaviest emitting industries.
Overall, COP27 disappointed many, and it will be for countries’ populations to judge their political leaders. But for climate, tech firms and the wider private sector, there was a real need to keep their collective feet down and commit to more ambitious climate action regardless of the economic headwinds we’re facing.