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Four Months to COP27: A Guide for Business

July 5, 2022
By Julia Staunig , Katarina Maaskant, Monica Frassoni & Petra Palfi

With the start of the COP27 conference only months away, the state of international discussions and cooperation is in a precarious position. The war in Ukraine has led to acute humanitarian, energy and food crises with global repercussions. Geopolitical relations are fragile and divided.

Even with all of this, we are reminded of the urgency of climate action; droughts are increasing the risk of wildfires and reducing harvests around the world. The post-COVID ambition to ‘build back better’ has not materialized. Instead, we saw emissions increase last year as economies started to pick up speed.

At COP27, it will be more important than ever to show how ambitious pledges have led to tangible actions. Corporate leaders can play a positive role as the world looks for leadership in solving the challenge of our lifetime.

 

Introduction

COP26 in Glasgow ended with its President, Alok Sharma, in tears of frustration over the disappointing results of the two-week-long negotiations. Because of the persistent divisions and deep disagreements among the parties, the situation does not look much improved four months before COP27 opens in Egypt.

While the tragic Russian invasion of Ukraine made the need to move away from fossil fuel dependency even more urgent, many countries are planning to secure more gas and oil provisions despite evidence that accelerated deployment of renewable energy and ambitious measures to reduce energy demand are needed to make us safer and more climate-proof.

Shortly after the publication of the IPCC Assessment on the bleak state of global climate, only 11 countries from 196 presented their new climate plans.

Intermediate negotiations such as the Bonn Climate Change Conference have struggled to make any major progress on some of the issues that are going to make or break COP27: i.e. Financial support that developed countries committed to provide to the most vulnerable ones on both mitigation and adaptation (the so-called Loss and Damage dialogue); Post 2025 climate financing; the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris agreement; initiating the carbon market mechanism among countries and at the global level; Effective “phasedown” on coal and fossil fuels.

The Egyptian government recognizes that climate change represents a real threat to its economic growth and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. However, due to its history of repressing freedom of expression and its new plans to further develop recently discovered gas assets, many stakeholders are questioning both the willingness and the capacity of the host country to achieve significant progress at COP27.

In light of the situation, it is critical for non-state actors, businesses and civil society to step up their efforts and engage with governments. Leading businesses will move from the swathe of commitments announced a year ago to clear delivery. Plans must include both energy efficiencies (even more important in Europe right now) as well as investments in new technology. Moreover, businesses need to come together in decarbonisation coalitions to push governments to shape policies that meet our climate goals. We have no time to waste.

“We can keep doing things the way they’ve always been done – which hasn’t been very successful – or corporate America can use its voices and resources to help define a better future for everyone and drive positive change. Those who don’t embrace this shift will be left behind.” – Ursula Burns, Chairwoman, Teneo

 

What is COP?

For nearly three decades, the United Nations has brought together almost 200 countries for global climate summits, the so-called Conference of the Parties (COP). Throughout the years, climate change has gone from a fringe issue to a global priority. The COP has met annually since 1995, and one of the most historic was the one held in Paris (COP21) in December 2015, during which the first-ever truly international climate agreement was made.

The Paris Agreement mobilised the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to decrease greenhouse gas emissions with an agreed-upon goal of staying well below a global average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement required each Party to publish an action plan of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reflecting the Party’s ambitions to comply with the UNFCCC’s objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Progress is reviewed and evaluated every five years.

What to Expect From COP27?

The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 6-18 November 2022. The Egyptian government is proud that they, as an African country, are presiding over the conference. This will, to some degree, influence the agenda. The hashtag for the conference is #Just_And_Ambitious, showcasing that global climate justice will be a focus of COP27.

Egypt, a regional political heavyweight and the most populous of the countries in the region, makes it a point of honour to appear on the front of the international diplomatic scene. Egypt is betting on the success of COP27 and intends to establish itself as a major player on the climate issue and a spokesperson for the African continent and the Middle East region.

This summit is a great opportunity for Egypt to raise its profile as a destination for top-tier international events that help address pressing global challenges. Egypt has a track record of hosting regional events that are created by the Egyptian Government, including the Investment for Africa Forum and the World Youth Forum.

“COP27 will be of immense importance to the whole future of humanity. For the U.K., there is a responsibility to work closely with Egypt to build on what was achieved in Glasgow and give further momentum to all the progress made. For Egypt, it is a crucial test of leadership on climate issues from the continent of Africa. The world’s most vulnerable countries need more help with mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. Promised flows of finance have to be made to happen. The Paris rule book must be implemented. All governments in the world have to recognise that the situation has only deteriorated in the past year, and the urgency of the work in Egypt is greater than ever before.” – Lord Hague of Richmond, Senior Advisor, Teneo

Theme Days

The Egyptian government announced that the COP27 programme will cover different themes. Each day will address a specific theme.

Key Themes at COP27: Financing and Implementation

Most of the world’s largest economies and emitters of greenhouse gasses have yet to fulfill the pledges they made at Glasgow last year at COP26 to strengthen their targets on emission cuts. With only six months to go before the summit, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry said that the focus this year must be on the G20 countries, the world’s 20 biggest economies, which are responsible for about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions-cutting plans these countries agreed on during COP26 were inadequate to meet the 1.5C target, so COP27 could be a great opportunity for them to make and announce more stringent proposals to tackle the issue.

The work to turn the pledges into real projects on the ground has been extremely slow due to the war in Ukraine, as well as rising energy and goods prices around the world, leaving these same countries grappling with a cost-of-living crisis nationally. G20 governments will now be required to follow through on promises made at the summit last year.

Financial assistance for developing countries is also at the top of the agenda for UN climate talks this year. Developing countries will be pressed to show progress on their contributions to climate finance, including increased funding for adaptation, as well as taking responsibility for loss and damage costs due to climate change. Most developing countries have extreme difficulty gaining access to finance, and that is an issue that will most likely be addressed during this COP.

During COP26, the private sector mobilised itself in a very important way. However, the trillions promised by the private sector can never make their way to poorer countries that need them the most unless there is more synergy between the public sector and private capital to create de-risking tools.

Rania Al Mashat, Egypt’s Minister for International Cooperation said that Egypt wants COP27 to be about moving from pledges to implementation. Therefore, it is expected that the summit will be heavy on practical policies and processes that can push the pledges into action. A COP focused on practicalities!

 

How Will COP27 Run?

The Blue Zone

The Blue Zone is the UN-managed space at the conference, which hosts the official negotiations. All attendees within the Blue Zone must be accredited by the UNFCCC. Permitted attendees include representatives of Parties to the Convention, Observer States, members of the press, representatives of observer organizations and climate representatives. Some access is expected for businesses. Further details can be found below, but a final decision on how and when to allocate passes has not yet been reached and could be impacted by any changes to COVID regulations.

  • Nation-State pavilions: These will be open to civil society organisations and businesses, as well as members of the public, through special day passes. These will be arranged by member states themselves, so businesses should contact relevant national delegations and government departments to request access.
  • Business pavilions:  A selection of businesses will apply to host business pavilions in the Blue Zone during COP27. These are expected to be relatively small exhibiting spaces, allowing businesses to engage directly with international delegates. We Mean Business Coalition has already announced their intention to apply for a business pavilion just like they did during the COP26.
  • Special event rooms: Event space in the Blue Zone will be available for nation-states to book throughout the conference. However, availability is limited and, as access for business has yet to be confirmed, this will likely only be possible via nation-state delegations.

The Green Zone

The Green Zone is the space controlled by the Egyptian government. This area will serve as an active space for youth groups, civil society, academia, artists and business from across Egypt, Africa and all over the world to host events, exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops and talks.

Venue

COP27 will be mostly held at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center, considered one of the largest and most innovative conference centers in the Middle Eastern and African region.

The venue can be reached within minutes from the Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, boasts advanced facilities and provides a host of technical services.

The conference complex has a variety of flexible conference and exhibition halls that will host the Blue Zone.

 

Opportunities for Engagement with Corporate Stakeholders

There is a lot to engage with, and new relationships and coalitions will need to be built early on if you are to get the most out of the experience. It is also imperative to have a proper understanding of your objectives, audiences, costs and how you stand out from the crowd.

“COP26 helped align and accelerate business’ focus on climate last year, but the global crises that followed make Glasgow feel like a long time ago. While COP27 is unlikely to match the intensity of its predecessor, the recent IPCC report and extreme weather events in South Africa and India serve as a reminder to all of us that climate change is unrelenting. Businesses that successfully navigate competing pressures of today, while decarbonizing their operations and supporting communities already impacted by climate change, will position themselves for long-term sustainable growth.” — Debbie Howard, Managing Director, Teneo

The Road to COP27

Through the two weeks of the conference, there will be a huge number of opportunities for engagement. The run-up to COP27 will also be crucial. The next few months will see a range of events and conferences from a broad spectrum of organisations, focusing on every element of the COP27 agenda. These events will provide opportunities to engage with ministers, COP delegates, potential partners and the media already ahead of the climate summit

Media Engagement

While a huge media presence is expected in Egypt throughout the conference, media participation at COP27 will go well beyond the dedicated media centre, which is due to host the accredited press in the Blue Zone.

Many major media outlets have been bolstering their Climate teams in anticipation of COP27 and are already planning additional events in the run-up to COP27, including Reuters, The New York Times, and The Economist which hosted its climate summit back in March. Others are planning more comprehensive engagement. This year we will see major media outlets based in the Middle East also take part in the media landscape around COP27. Therefore, opportunities for media engagement throughout the next four months and at the conference itself will be numerous, but competitive for businesses to secure.

Corporate Involvement

The private sector and some of the biggest corporations in the world played a significant role in securing the Paris Agreement, helping give governments the support they needed to sign up for the agreement. Without businesses creating products and services that have lower environmental footprints, an increasingly prosperous global consumer base will have only one way of reducing their carbon footprint: shopping less!

Therefore, there is nothing more urgent for the corporate world than taking climate action. To avoid irreversible damage and meet the Paris Agreement goals, including reaching net zero by 2050, global emissions must be cut in half by 2030.

Companies that meet the moment will play a vital role in saving the planet. Equally crucial, they’ll create business advantage, in such forms as increased market share, new cost efficiencies, boosted valuations and the ability to attract and retain top talent.

These companies can choose to get involved with the conference either directly or indirectly, or by joining various business initiatives.

Official Sponsorship

By partnering with COP27, sponsors can reaffirm their position as leaders on climate action and benefit from unrivalled networking opportunities with governments and global business leaders. They will also have the opportunity to host side events and exhibitions as part of the conference. This will help them promote their own climate ambitions and projects within the venue and through the COP27 communications channels.

Sponsors can support the success of COP27 by:

  • Contributing to awareness of climate change key challenges
  • Providing financial resources and technical expertise before and during the conference
  •  Inspiring other businesses to take actions on the climate agenda and set ambitious targets

You can apply to become a COP27 sponsor here.

 

Parallel Events

There are numerous side events that businesses can sponsor, attend or have someone from their organization speak on a panel.

World Climate Summit

Also called the Investment COP 2022, the World Climate Summit will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh at the Park Regency Hotel during COP27 on the 13-14 of November. The summit will convene the World Climate Foundation’s leading network of public and private sector stakeholders to enhance ambition and increase action for a transition to a net zero economy. This year’s event is aligned with COP27 priorities and will focus on accelerating climate finance.

World Biodiversity Summit

The World Biodiversity Summit will take place at the Park Regency Hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh on 15 November. The summit was launched by the World Climate Foundation in 2021. It gathers public and private sector stakeholders from across the globe on the crucial topics of biodiversity and economic growth within safe planetary boundaries.

Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF)

The Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF) will take place alongside the COP27 on 9-10 November and will offer stakeholders the opportunity to have a tangible impact at COP both in-person and online by helping forge cross-sector partnerships, spotlighting effective business action, highlighting the power of green finance and showcasing innovative solutions that will enable the world to deliver on the SDGs and reach net zero.

Fringe Events

Previous COP summits hosted different types of events, business partnerships and consumer-focused activities. For example, during COP21 in Paris, Ikea partnered with JCDecaux and Ubi Bene to turn the Champs-Elysees into a laboratory of clean energy production. From business forums and roundtables to public events and publicity stunts, we can expect businesses to engage with the conference in creative ways. We can also expect several events hosted by a business located in the Middle East region.

 

Key Stakeholders

Teneo can help any business to build an effective stakeholder engagement plan for COP27. The stakeholders set out below are expected to attend, as will many others with particular relevance to your business and sector challenges.

European Stakeholders

European Commission

  • Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of European Commission – Leads the Commission’s work on the European Green Deal.
  • Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for the Environment, oceans, and fisheries.
  • Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy
  • Josep Borell Fontelles, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

European Parliament

  • Pascal Canfin (Renew, France)
  • Peter Liese (EPP, Germany)
  • Mohammed Chahim (S&D, Netherlands)
  • Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden)
  • Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, Netherlands)
  • Morten Helveg Petersen (Renew, Denmark)

Council Presidency Representative

  • Anna Hubackova, Czech Minister of the Environment

EU Delegation to Egypt and the UAE

  • H.E Christian Berger, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt
  • H.E Andrea Matteo Fontana, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to the UAE

Middle Eastern Stakeholders

  • Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs / COP27 President
  • Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation
  • Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt
  • Yasmine Fouad, Egyptian Minister of Environment
  • Mostafa Madbouly, Egyptian Prime Minister
  • Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy
  • Hala El Said, Egyptian Minister of Planning and Economic Development
  • Nevine Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry.
  • Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment
  • Nawal Al-Hosany, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy
  • Mohamed Abbas Fayed, CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank
  • Francesco La Camera, Director General, IRENA, Abu Dhabi

United States Stakeholders

  • John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
  • Gina MacCarthy, National Climate Advisor and Chair of the White House Climate taskforce
  • Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce
  • Jennifer M. Granholm, Secretary of Energy
  • Brenda Mallory, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
  • Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

United Kingdom Stakeholders

  • Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President
  • Mark Carney, Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, UN
  • Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Policy and Head of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit
  • Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy
  • George Eustice PP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Nigel Topping, High-level Champion of the UK, UNFCC
  • Dr. Rhian-Mari Thomas, CEO, Green Finance Institute
  • David Attenborough, UN Champion of the Earth, Activist
The views and opinions in these articles are solely of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Teneo. They are offered to stimulate thought and discussion and not as legal, financial, accounting, tax or other professional advice or counsel.

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