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Key outcomes of COP27 by Douglas Greenway, Head of Environment  

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 brought together decision makers from across the globe to see how climate pledges would give way to implementation plans for tackling climate change and preparing for its effects.

Whilst progress was made with regards to adapting to the impacts of climate change the key question remains, did it go far enough to reduce the causes of climate change?

The most significant breakthrough of COP27 was the agreement to set up a new fund for ’loss and damage’ for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. Governments have been deliberating this for over a decade and it’s great that there is now a way forward to help communities whose lives have been ruined by the worst impacts of climate change.

Despite the challenges of the geopolitical back drop, COP27 saw countries reaffirm their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, a stark report from the UN on Climate Change concluded that even if current national and international pledges were adopted, we’d still be looking at a 2.5 degree celsius warmer world by the end of the century and irreversible environmental change. As such, it’s disappointing that little was done to advance efforts to stay below the 1.5 degrees, beyond what has been pledged and agreed at COP26.

The UN climate change Executive Secretary reminded delegates in the closing plenary that the world is in a critical decade for climate action. Business has an enormous role in delivering in partnership with government.

So, what about AWE? Like many organisations, we’ve committed to achieve net-zero by 2050 and have a Carbon Management Strategy that sets out our key reduction activities.

We’ve made a good start with carbon emissions that we have direct control over (Scope 1 and 2) from heating and electricity and we have set a Science Based Target for reducing our emissions. Our purchased electricity is from renewable sources, and we are exploring off site solar farms to provide direct supply to site. We have a heating strategy to move away from reliance on fossil fuels and are setting standards for our new build projects to design for energy efficiency. We’re also producing a plan to transition vehicle fleet to ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) including electric vehicles (EVs).

We’re not quite as advanced with our indirect carbon emissions (Scope 3) but are starting to work with suppliers to set baselines figures and identify where future carbon savings can be made. This will enable us to set meaningful reduction targets.

So, coming back to my opening question above, there are many articles outlining the merits and frustrations of COP27 that support a mixed view of its success. In many ways, both views are valid.  Whilst perhaps more could have been done to move away from fossil fuels and really focus on global targets, I’m encouraged by the progress made and the attention it’s received not just in past week, but over the past number of years. This is reflected by the position here at AWE and I’m proud of the work we’re doing and the difference we’re making. Sustained change is happening and its incumbent on us all to continue this push.