CDP comment on Davos 2023
Monday, 24 January 2023 (London): Responding to the World Economic Forum 2023, in Davos, CDP's Global Director for Climate Change Amir Sokolowski said: "The theme of this year’s Davos summit, “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”, could not have been more pertinent. As we begin a new year, we remain confronted by severe threats to people, society and economies. The crisis of the natural world is deepening and its impacts worsening: war, a global energy crisis and looming recession.
Despite global recognition of the scale and severity of these interconnected crises, fragmentation has only worsened in recent months. We can see that reflected in disjointed legislation and domestic backtracking on existing commitments: several EU nations are reopening coal plants and issuing new oil and gas licences, CoP27 failed to see a significant increase in nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and financial institutions’ approach seems to be fragmenting in itself. Increasing the supply and use of gas and oil is not viable as it will mean we fail to meet the global climate goals and continue to prop up the current volatile fossil-fuelled energy system.
Recent devastating events cannot weaken global resolution to end the environmental crisis. This is just kicking the can along the road until it hits a brick wall. We only have until 2030 to halve global emissions in order to keep 1.5°C in sight and ignoring our global and national commitments will inevitably enhance current catastrophes and lead to far worse outcomes in the near future.
Where governments fall short, non-state actors can and must step up and act. Two months ago, we saw COP27 resulted in a fractured agreement. A stark silence where enhancement of NDCs and financial streams were expected, little progress made towards finalizing carbon markets guidance and uninspiring language around the energy transition reinforce the need for action from non-state actors such as the private sector and cities, states and regions. In many ways, we’re already seeing the increased momentum of corporate action. 2022 saw record numbers disclose through CDP, jumping from more than 13,000 to almost 20,000 disclosing entities in one year. Nearly 4,500 have now committed to, or already set, a science-based target through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Last week at Davos, non-state actors had a window to create positive change by further demonstrating their commitment to helping drive a progress towards a sustainable economic transition and lay out their intention for the year ahead. It was clear that there was an increased recognition from leading executives of the climate-related risks facing them and the need to prepare for a transition to a renewable energy future. UN Secretary General António Guterres called for every company to develop a credible and transparent transition plans on how to achieve net zero – and submit those plans before the end of this year.
Enhancing commitment to the energy transition, following the guidance of the UN High Level Expert Group on integrity and clarifying financial stream pathways are just some of the pathways to action where a lead must be taken. However, non-state actors must ensure that the momentum we saw late last year at the biodiversity COP15 – at which there were unprecedented levels of corporate engagement and enthusiasm – continues. Global events such as Davos must help solve the challenge of fragmentation, understanding the intrinsic interconnectedness between the climate, natural and humanitarian disasters, and treating them at their environmental roots is the only sustainable way forward.