Business key to COP28 success; needs to bring checkbook – special representative

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – Business will be central to the success of the COP28 climate talks but companies need to back up their environmental and social pledges with firm action and money, Special Representative Badr Jafar told Reuters.

Jafar, who will be overseeing the Dec. 1-2 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum at the event with more than 500 world leaders, CEOs and charities, said he expected at least 26 major deals on everything from technology to finance and agriculture.

“We’re making sure people come with commitments and not just pledges. So real money. People are really becoming fed up of lofty pledges that don’t go anywhere,” said Jafar, who is also CEO of Crescent Enterprises, a United Arab Emirates-based conglomerate.

Among the targets for a work stream focusing on accelerating the energy transition, was for more than 100 companies to join a two-year-old pledge to align their procurement practices with the world’s climate goal.

Dubbed the First Movers Coalition and launched at COP26 in Glasgow, the group, which aims to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors including heavy industry and long-distance transport, had around 65 members at last year’s summit in Egypt.

Another goal is to launch a new fund called the Energy Transition Accelerator, raising money for nascent technologies to help the transition, particularly in the developing world, Jafar said, without detailing its size.

Targets for the fossil fuel sector included a plan to get to zero-methane emissions by 2030, a target oil and gas companies “must take unwavering responsibility for delivering on”.

“The objective is also to help to create models and mechanisms that will help to fund that across both the energy sector and the agriculture sector,” Jafar said.

The group would also look to agree a plan for the energy sector to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, after criticism that many of the existing climate commitments in the sector are not aligned with the science of climate change.

“There needs to be uniformity in the nomenclature and the targets, and this is also a very important track that COP28 is working on so we can at least all agree on the same definitions, otherwise we’re all working towards different rule-books.”

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)