COP28 Dubai 2023 – one global or millions of local climate change solutions?

December’s climate summit must decide whether 195 nations or small businesses organisations worldwide can now halt global warming. As an official NGO in the Blue Zone where key decisions are taken, the East Lancs Sustainability team will be offering innovative international answers.

November moving into December is a pivotal month for the East Lancs Chamber both at our new low carbon home base and in influencing the outcome of crucial environmental decisions overseas.

The starting point is that after five successful years our original Low Carbon Programme has moved forward into two mutually-supporting streams under the new brand banner of Chamber Sustainability – Chamber Low Carbon and RedCAT.

The advantages of this expansion are described below as a series of new interlinked ‘journeys’ for Northwest business organisations, local authority bodies, and committed individual innovators.

An early invitation …

But first, we would like to invite you to meet us in person at our new purpose-designed low carbon hub to see what we do at first hand on Tuesday 12th December (https://my.chamberelancs.co.uk/calendar_detail.html?eid=8D801349-A7ED-4DD8-B5C6-5F9731DBB04A).

This open day will be immediately after our team returns from playing a key role at COP28 where nations will try to resolve extremely challenging global problems. We will be happy to discuss what happened in Dubai … and what happens next!

Chamber CEO, Miranda Barker OBE, who will be part of the team going to Dubai, explains in a moment why the outcome of the summit is so important, and what the East Lancs Chamber and British Chamber of Commerce want to see from COP28.

Journeys with a common destination …

Our first introductory Chamber Low Carbon journey shows local companies how they can be more energy-efficient, move from ‘dirty’ fossil-fuels to ‘clean’ renewable energy, and minimise waste.

For some, this will lead to a second journey via RedCAT. The aim is to help entrepreneurs with important technical developments to make the difficult commercial leap into world markets – sometimes with direct personal support from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at ‘No 11’.

A number of Northwest manufacturing and service companies (listed below) will also be coming with us to COP28 to build new business links and showcase our region’s unique environmental strengths.

Very importantly, our Chamber team as an officially recognised NGO by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) will also meet and lobby top politicians, opinion-formers and decision-makers, plus leading UN representatives at COP28.

One of their key priorities in the UAE will be to promote the concept of “Green Tech Equity” to help Global South nations fight their own climate change battles – using Lancashire green innovations!

This ties in with our long-term journey of helping Northwest companies to export carefully-designed lower cost products to less prosperous countries such that everyone benefits.

Along the way, we will be teaming up with key UK and international partners, and enjoying the support of Government ministers, their support teams, plus shadow cabinet members.

Lancashire companies at COP28 …

The ten regional flag-bearers and champion companies going with us to Dubai to help promote what the Northwest can offer the world in advanced environmental products and services are: – Carbon Bit, LINA Energy, Isentra, IoT Horizon, Qwala, Greenshield Group, and Ryse Energy.

Global warming – still the fundamental problem …

Average Earth surface temperatures which are rising at an ever-faster rate now pose a potential existential threat to our home planet that eight years of intense international efforts since COP21 in 2015 have not been able to reduce.

December’s gathering of senior political, business, scientific, academic and NGO leaders in the UAE with the Earth’s climatic fate in their hands is once again being billed as a final ‘final’ chance to avoid irreversible environmental tipping points and catastrophes.

However, a switch away from relying on elected heads of state in favour of the market-proven skills and creativity of millions of ordinary companies that must deliver continuously to survive commercially could be more successful this time. In other words, businesses could have the answers.

Different approach – different outcomes?

The core problem is that the world still needs an effective solution to keep soaring temperature rises down to no more than 2.00C, and preferably 1.50C. More accurately, it needs a powerful suite of carbon-cutting/energy-efficiency and post-fossil-fuel green solutions. An example of the latter is more effective battery storage technologies.

The Paris Climate Agreement at COP21 was the starting pistol for nearly 200 countries to integrate their individual national efforts into one single overarching global solution.

Eight years on, the world’s first net-zero Global Stocktake carried out before COP28 has already shown that the chosen Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) system is not, and probably cannot, succeed as it should.

In fact, much of the COP28 13-day agenda will focus on trying to pull countries falling behind the low carbon curve back onto a net-zero track.

Lancashire – green equity – the Global South – world markets …

However, as the ‘journeys’ described above show, there is a significant Plan B!

To date, the focus on NDCs means that there has been less emphasis on the combined efforts of millions of cities, regions, counties, local communities, SMEs, and larger business organisations.

That is expected to change quickly with growing anxieties about the severity of the environmental emergency made worse by the intensity of the El Niño cyclical Pacific Ocean deep water phenomena that made much of the world’s weather particularly brutal in 2023.

Fortunately, Plan B is also an area where our Sustainability team are now well-positioned to make a significant practical difference and influence by example.

Past and future ‘journeys’ …

It is important to understand how much progress the Chamber team has made in the last five years – and the previous 25 – in building a springboard for the future.

East Lancs is now recognised within the UK and overseas – and in Whitehall and Westminster – as the only regional Chambers specialising in low-carbon matters, although we work closely on low carbon issues with the British Chamber of Commerce, International Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

As mentioned earlier, a major programme of expansion, reorganisation, and recruitment in 2023 means that Chamber Sustainability now works through two complementary and physical joined hubs at East Lancashire Chamber’s Red Rose Court office centre near Accrington (BB5 5JR).

The first, Chamber Low Carbon, continues to help local organisations eliminate heat and energy loses, replace inefficiency equipment, invest in low carbon plant, transition from traditional high-carbon oil and gas to low-carbon wind and solar energy sources, minimise waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) loses as part of the circular economy, and make maximum use of new green technology.

However, there is also a rapidly growing regional and national role for RedCAT in bridging the financial-R&D-prototyping “Valley of Death” gap that stops many entrepreneurs from taking much-needed green innovations to not only regional and UK, but also export and Global South markets where they are needed urgently to combat climate change.

RedCAT works externally with medium and large environmental technology companies but has recently opened an extensive drop-in suite with hot-desking and other facilities for ambitious single entrepreneurs. It also provides regular support from the British Business Bank and UK Innovate Edge, NatWest Bank and others.

The export potential of innovative Lancashire companies is now so highly regarded that we have already arranged a breakfast meeting for their management teams with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Downing Street.

COP28 and ‘Green Tech Equity’ …

Another ‘mission’ is that for the first time the Chamber team will be accredited at COP28 as an official NGO (non-governmental organisation) able to talk with, advise and influence world leaders in the Blue Zone where high-level discussions take place and strategic world decisions are taken.

Given the parlous state of many national and the world economy made worse by high energy costs and the climate emergency, but also the need for new products and services to stimulate and boost global economic performance, we are keen to promote the concept of Green Tech Equity.

Mirroring the World Health Organisation’s 2021 international Vaccine Equity programme which successfully increased global resilience to the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe the climate change emergency can be solved similarly through wide access to leading-edge green technology.

Messages from the UK for COP28 decision-makers …

As Miranda explains, plans are in place for Lancashire firms and others from British Chambers of Commerce across the world to meet the UK Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, her counterpart from the shadow cabinet Ed Miliband, and other UK politicians in Dubai, to discuss how innovative low carbon technologies can provide low carbon solutions and local economic returns. International engagement is vital, she adds.

“We will be urging governments to engage with their Chambers of Commerce and their national business communities to tackle the international shortfalls on real action identified in the UNFCCC’s 2023 Global Stocktake and ensure we stay on track to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees, while also securing a global commitment to clean energy.

She continues, “It is reassuring to see the UK Government backing adaptation, plus a commitment to the global Loss and Damage Fund for communities most impacted by climate change. We hope the full potential of this funding can be put behind adaption and mitigation technology deployment to the Global South without incurring a net debt burden.”

Backing for the green tech innovators too …

While supporting the UNFCCC’s work on technology transfers for the global adoption of green technologies, it is also essential to safeguard the commercial Intellectual Property of innovative companies and ensure national Governments create the right conditions for them to develop and deliver their climate technologies, says Miranda.

We won’t know until we try …

Clearly, COP28 will involve a lot of hard talking to negotiate away intractable problems and persuade many people that new and unfamiliar solutions are the best way forward. However, Miranda is optimistic.

“Nelson Mandela said: ‘It’s only impossible until it’s done’. Our view is that the R&D and manufacturing expertise of Lancashire and the Northwest’s environmental technology cluster can be transferred affordably to Global South nations such that everyone benefits. And we want to prove it.”

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