net zero: COP26 summit’s message to business: Clean up to cash in


The Glasgow Climate Pact sent a clear message to global companies and executives: reassess business strategies and carbon footprints to reap monetary rewards, or lag and risk losses.

The deal pushes countries to do much more to curb climate-warming carbon emissions. That pressure will increasingly be imposed on investment and industry to bring emissions associated with their businesses in check. The Glasgow pact also delivered a breakthrough on rules for governing carbon markets, and took aim at fossil fuel subsidies.

The gathering brought in top CEOs, mayors, and leaders in industries, including finance, construction, vehicles and aviation, agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure.

WALL OF MONEY

“COP26 has unleashed a wall of new private sector money,” said Gregory Barker, executive chairman at EN+ Group, by email. “For business everywhere, one thing is certain, big change is coming and coming fast.”

Two investment conferences on the side of the summit touted profits to be made for those who meet environmental conditions for the cash. Many deals were announced, including plans for a standards body to scrutinise corporate climate disclosures that will challenge boardrooms.

With the pact reaffirming a global commitment to containing global warming at 1.5 deg Celsius, boards can expect tougher national pollution policies across all sectors, particularly in transport, energy and farming.

RISING PRESSURE
That will leave the companies without a plan to adapt to a low-carbon economy looking exposed, UN High-level Climate Action Champion Nigel Topping said. Adding to the pressure, financial services companies with $130 trillion in assets have pledged to align their business with the net-zero goal. They will now lean on the boards of corporate climate laggards.



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