The sustainability lens was sharpened at the Climate Innovation Forum to focus wholly on the transition between technology, finance, regulation and government, as part of London Climate Action Week (LCAW).
Following on from last November’s COP26 in Glasgow, Climate Innovation Forum (CIF) was seeking continued climate innovation collaboration this year, uniting senior public and private sector decision makers to accelerate the delivery of net zero commitments.
The forum, now in its fourth year, is a flagship event of LCAW 2022, acting as a critical touchpoint between COP26 and COP27 (to be held in Egypt this November). CIF looked at core pathways to reach net zero and the delivery of the Glasgow Breakthroughs (the global clean technology plan devised to help keep 1.5 degrees within reach) to highlight the urgency of developing innovative climate solutions.
The Breakthrough Agenda was launched at COP26 by PM Boris Johnson to deliver clean and affordable technology everywhere before the end of the decade. It attracted more than 40 world leaders who signed up, including the US, India, EU, China, developing economies and some of the countries which are most vulnerable to climate change.
The CIF event gathered a crowd of considerable size (an in-person audience of 700 and 3,000 on-demand global views), comprising policymakers, investors, climate-tech solution providers, business leaders and multilateral organisations. It showcased what is working to reach a net zero future – as opposed to creating noise about what needs to be done – to close the gap between ambition and action, exploring the creation and adoption of innovative technologies, processes and business models that can be accelerated and scaled.
I attended two roundtable discussions during the day, which enabled me to contribute to meaningful conversations about using hydrogen as an alternative fuel and the future of green jobs, the latter of which drives Acre forward with its 20 years’ experience as a talent provider for purpose-led businesses wanting to make sustainable change.
1. Hydrogen Roundtable
The roundtable focused on green hydrogen and how it will be powered by investment, government intervention and strong communication. Green hydrogen is a developing industry that will be critical for net zero and diversifying the energy mix but its greatest challenge, as with many innovations, will be reducing the cost.
The discussion was led by the Green Hydrogen Organisation and was attended by a diverse range of attendees including banks and financiers (HSBC, Deutsche Bank), global project developers, major energy companies focusing on increasing transition and technological innovators.
I left the roundtable with a stronger understanding of the importance of green hydrogen to diversify away from fossil fuels and the urgent requirement to accelerate government intervention in supporting these technologies. This will help reduce costs to both companies and consumers to enable green hydrogen to be considered a staple fuel in our cars and homes.
2. Green Jobs Roundtable
Hosted by IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment), this roundtable debated how we can best transition the economy towards further sustainability and ensure every job in society is a green job.
We discussed Acre’s position in the Sustainability and ESG market for the last 20 years and looked at how we have supported individuals who transitioned from a non-sustainability role to leading and pioneering sustainability in their company and industry.
We also looked at how the skills gap in these spaces can be bridged, with further education and training necessary to support this. I concluded that the need for green talent is not so much about the future but making these changes now and how we can encourage others to consider how their employers and work fits into purpose-led support of net zero and decarbonisation.
It was a great privilege to attend the Climate Innovation Forum and London Climate Action Week. While engaging with fellow attendees, it was apparent that the passion and belief in climate innovation is in good hands and the solutions are here in front of us, although I felt a sense of disparity among the researchers, academia and solutions-driven experts in terms of how some of the suggested solutions could be adapted to real life.
The commitments made by the UK government and COP26 will be achieved through the collaboration of leading innovators, financiers and government-led incentives. Acre’s role will continue to play a leading part in the discussion around climate innovation and supporting the continued evolution of a green economy that supports everyone. I would welcome a further discussion with any CIF attendees I was unable to engage with on the day due to time constraints, especially those who seek impactful people to help drive their business towards a healthy and successful transition.
Lewis Murray is Senior Consultant – Energy, based at Acre’s London office and can be contacted by email: email@example.com.
Lewis works for Acre’s Sustainable Energy team, leading executive mandates in the UK and internationally in the renewable energy and carbon markets. Prior to Acre, Lewis spent over 5 years supporting market-leading Energy organisations and consultancies with senior-level staff across multiple technologies and geographies.