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Countdown to COP28: Clarity’s analysis - the UK Perspective

By Catriona Biggart

Senior Vice President, London

Attention will be on Dubai later this month as governments from across the world convene for COP28.

First and foremost, this year’s UN Climate Change Conference is to be an important stock take on global prowhat thgress toward the Paris Agreement. This binding international piece of legislation was signed in 2016. It seeks to limit the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2°C (35.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C (34.7°F) above pre-industrial levels. COP28 will also be a stark reminder to communities across the globe that climate change is happening now, and will reiterate the urgent need to reach net zero emissions.

In this three part blog series from Clarity’s sustainability experts, we’ll be analyzing what the conference will mean to the citizens and businesses of the U.S., UK and Australia. In part two, we hear from Cat Biggart, Senior Vice President - Communications with Clarity in the UK. 

Cat is based in London.

The UK took a leading role in the fight against climate change by hosting COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, yet some of the policies announced by the country have been scaled back or pulled altogether since. Given the UK - like many nations across the globe - is experiencing the stark and undeniable effects of climate change, recent climate disasters should be serving as a wake-up call, highlighting the urgent need for action that needs to come from COP28 this month. 

One of the most pressing climate-based issues in the UK is flooding, which has become increasingly frequent and severe in recent years, causing substantial damage to homes, infrastructure, and the environment. The devastating cumulative impact of storms Agnes, Babet and Ciaran in the last few months alone have added to the strain on coastal communities, like those in East Anglia and the southwest, which have been grappling with the consequences of these phenomena for many years. 

Heatwaves have also become more frequent and severe in the UK, with record-breaking temperatures hitting the country in recent years, posing a direct threat to public health, agriculture, and natural ecosystems. The latter are already under heavy strain, with species like the red squirrel and water vole facing declining populations. 

From world-leading congestion charges to clean air strategies, and 2021’s Environment Act, UK businesses are being mandated to make changes through policy decisions designed to limit the effects of climate change. 

Many are aware of the potential competitive advantage to be gained through pioneering net-zero plans - including brand reputation, consumer perception, attracting and retaining talent, access to new markets, regulatory compliance, and future-proofing - but face challenges in unlocking that potential. 

The British Chambers of Commerce recently explored how prepared UK businesses are to reach net zero emissions. It found that awareness of the 2050 net zero target was lower among companies with fewer than 50 staff, with just 19% having developed a plan for reaching the target, compared with 36 percent of larger organizations. Worryingly, 60 percent of those surveyed said they, “either had no intention of reaching net zero, did not believe it was possible for their organization, or did not know what it would involve”.

While recent climate disasters serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for solutions, it is obvious that public and private sectors need to work together on a climate solution that is robust, clear and achievable. COP28 presents an opportunity for the UK to make a lasting impact on the global stage by championing policies and agreements that combat climate change, protect its citizens, and safeguard its future, which will ultimately benefit businesses of all sizes.

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