Half the low-carbon technologies the world needs to reach net zero by 2050 are still in development. To accelerate their path to market, the World Economic Forum and John Kerry have launched the First Movers Coalition, with more than 30 members making purchasing commitments to drive demand. It will operate across eight sectors, seven of which are responsible for more than a third of global carbon emissions.
Businesses are a ‘critical component’ leading the race to net zero, John Kerry said, as he launched the coalition at COP26 in Glasgow.
The U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and COP veteran sounded a note of optimism, saying: “There’s a dynamic setting into this COP, it’s different, there’s more energy, more focus, more sense of urgency than I’ve seen at any of these meetings ever.
“And there is a critical component… for the first time, and in a massive way, the private sector is at the table and, frankly, leading in the way that even some governments are not.”
Speaking at the launch event were: Sumant Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, ReNew Power Limited; Kara Hurst, Vice President, Worldwide Sustainability, Amazon; Anna Borg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vattenfall AB; Brian T. Moynihan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America; Rich Lesser, Global Chair, Boston Consulting Group; Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum, Geneva; John F. Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, National Security Council.
There are uncertainties, Kerry told the gathered members of the Coalition. “50% of the emission reductions will come from innovations, technologies that are not yet at scale.”
But we need to do everything we can to keep global temperatures below 1.5C.
“The bottom line is exponentially, we get this going and cooking, and it’s going to go [much] faster than it would otherwise – and that’s what we need.
“If we don’t get enough reduction somewhere in the 45% region in the next 10 years, we are blowing by 1.5C, and that’s a hard target, it’s not easy to achieve and everyone knows that. We need everything we can conceivably do…
“We’re going to handhold countries and target the 20 biggest countries in the world, which are responsible for 80% of emissions, that’s where we need to go because that’s where the emissions are.”
The Bank of America has committed to net zero, but the issue is helping clients decarbonize, said Brian T. Moynihan.
“If they’re going to be able to do this, there’s got to be technologies and scale – and who’s going to create that scale? It’s the purchase power of the big firms. We say it’s a just transition.
“What was exciting about this was how John went to the thought process of the purchase power of the largest heavy footprint companies and getting them to start the ball down the hill.
“We’ve got to get the market started… we can’t do it from finance out unless the companies are prepared to make the transition. We’re here to help.”
Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, is also calling on business leaders to join the coalition. “Technology has given us the tools to reduce our emissions and build a stronger and more inclusive economy of the future,” he said. “For innovators and investors to play their part in tackling the climate crisis, they need clear market demand. The First Movers Coalition will leverage the collective purchasing power of leading companies and drive the need for these technologies.”