We have six years to find £100tn to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and prevent further climate change, but we won’t do it without India and China, writes Nicholas Lyons
I was recently given the great honour of welcoming King Charles to the City of London where he was a surprise guest at the Climate Innovation Forum. Everyone from inventors and academics to bankers and government ministers attended to present ideas of how different sectors can collaborate to tackle climate change.
The King oversaw the launch of a Climate Clock, counting down to 2030, warning the world it had just six years and 24 days to limit the heating of the earth to 1.5C. This clock was immediately displayed in Piccadilly Circus and across the country in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. The ticking clock is a stark reminder that time is of the essence. And without urgency, the gesture is in danger of becoming as empty as the catchphrase.
I should be clear that I do not believe for a second that this fact is lost on those who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, or any of the delegates and VIPs at the many successful COPs since. However, it is worth reiterating.
Last week, the government announced an £80m cash boost to help companies cut their carbon footprint which will help turn the dial on climate action in various sectors. Among the businesses that received the funding was Kellogg’s, which will transform their production by using hydrogen to fuel their cereal making process in Manchester. Meanwhile, Scotland’s oldest whisky maker, Annadale Distillery, will take a step towards a new low-carbon future with a £3.6m government investment in new thermal heating technology. The UK is a natural home for innovation. New climate tech advancements such as these have the potential to transform entire sectors and pave the way for more sustainable practices.
If we want to meet our Paris Climate goals, then we need at least $100tn of sustainable investment between now and 2050. These clean energy infrastructures and significant changes to agriculture and manufacturing will not come solely from government intervention; private finance has a huge role to play in bridging this gap.
Thankfully we have seen great efforts and enthusiasm from the financial services industry around the world for this work. Over the last two years, organisations that manage $85tn of private capital have committed to hitting net zero emissions targets by 2050, including over 500 banks, insurers, and asset managers across 45 countries.
The time for global collaboration is now – not just financial services working across international borders, but governments, regulators, innovators, academics, insurers, project managers, engineers – especially when it comes to India and China.
Last week, I spoke at the UK-India Infrastructure Summit to outline how we need to bring bankers, regulators, investors, lawyers and researchers together to meet India’s climate ambitions. This couldn’t be more important: as India’s population overtakes China’s, and is expected to become the fastest-growing major economy, sustainable infrastructure will be critical for its economic trajectory.
China too is increasingly aware of the need to put sustainability at the very forefront of their minds, too. Yes, China may be the biggest carbon polluter, but it is also the largest investor in renewables and the biggest producer of clean energy. A partnership – where China and India are supported through the UK’s thought leadership in sustainability – will be critical to tackling the challenge of global climate change.
The introduction of a countdown clock won’t change the world but it reminds us of our commitments to tackle climate change and our obligation to create a just transition.