Even the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said “climate change is out of control” – we need to take it back, writes Chris Hayward.
This week marks 100 days until Cop28 meets in Dubai. The global climate conference will see the finalisation of the first stocktake of progress against the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015. It will be a global report-card moment and I’m sure the verdict will be “must do better”.
Back in July, we had consecutive days of global record-breaking temperatures, leading UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to conclude that “climate change is out of control”.
So how do we regain control?
The forthcoming global stocktake will shine a light on the very real problems we face.
We will need to confront difficult issues such as fossil fuel use and – unlike at Cop27 – reach a global consensus on how to phase them out. Given the United Arab Emirates’ own oil and gas industry, this will not be straightforward, but we cannot afford to look away, we must grasp the nettle.
We will need to translate promises into actions. It’s no longer enough to talk the talk, we must walk the walk. This has been a core focus of the City of London Corporation.
We will need to ensure that discussions include the private as well as the public sector. There are two sides to the conference: the first is the formal government-led negotiations, the second is the swell of activity on the fringes. We must seize the initiative in this wider context to bring companies and countries with us on along the road to net zero.
On all three of these challenges, the City can play – indeed must play – a vital role.
A recent report by the City of London Corporation and Skills for a Sustainable Skyline taskforce, which makes up over 300 organizations, called for urgent reform to the apprenticeship levy to help tackle the growing demand for green jobs.
At present, 76 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. A recent survey by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) foresees a substantial rise in the need for construction labor in Central London. This demand, which includes building, retrofitting, and managing sustainable structures, is expected to reach over 250,000 workers by 2027. However, we are far from meeting this increasing demand for green jobs unless we promptly invest in and reform our education system.
The challenge of allocating levy funds for diverse skills training is especially pronounced in the built environment, where creating apprenticeship standards for emerging green job roles has been slow. Apprenticeship numbers have dropped each year since 2016 in construction and planning, though there was a slight uptick in 2022. The situation is tougher for SMEs, which make up the majority in this sector and often don’t qualify for the apprenticeship levy. While the government covers 95 per cent of apprenticeship costs for non-levy payers, SMEs still bear the remaining 5 per cent along with additional expenses like apprentice wages. This is notable since over 70 per cent of apprentices are trained by SMEs with limited time and funds for their development.
Given London is the leading global centre for green finance, a key part of the solution to tackling climate change is to upskill the workforce. The City, industry and government must all engage in this.
By showcasing what the City can offer at Cop28, we will strengthen the relationship between the City’s financial and professional services sector and the climate.