Climate challenge scrutinised ahead of COP28

Latest instalment in London Business School’s think ahead thought leadership series tackles climate change and sustainability

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The business response to COP28 will be critical to the future survival of economies and wider society.

The stark warning by London Business School Associate Professor Ioannis Ioannou came during opening hour of LBS’s most recent think ahead thought leadership event, ‘The Road to COP28 – Aligning Expectations with Action’.

“COP28 will likely influence significant shifts in business strategies, emphasizing the urgent need for a transition to clean energy, integrating holistic climate strategies that consider people and nature, and re-evaluating climate finance models,” he said.

“The focus on inclusivity in climate action will require companies to adopt more community-focused and socially responsible practices, while the rising trend in climate litigation underscores the need for robust legal preparedness.

“I think that as we look forward, these themes will be crucial for shaping the corporate approach to not only climate policies, but sustainability more broadly.”

More than 800 guests joined the in-person and online event to hear leading experts from industry, non-government organisations and academia discuss key issues on the COP28 agenda.

LBS Dean François Ortalo-Magné and Vice Dean Julian Birkinshaw welcomed guests and introduced the day’s proceedings.

Energy transitions and opportunities were discussed during a panel session hosted by LBS Professor of Decision Sciences Derek Bunn and featuring Albert Cheung, BloombergNEF’s Deputy CEO, Head of Global Transition Analysis; Daniel Hanna, Global Head of Sustainable Finance, Barclays; and Martha Vasquez, Partner and Associate Director, Upstream Oil & Gas at BCG, Decarbonization, Energy Transition, Decommissioning, Performance Improvement.

Alex Haynes, Head of Business Development at Petrofac joined Professor Birkinshaw on-stage for a fireside chat focussed on energy transition in the UAE.

Drawing on several findings from his research, LBS Professor of Finance Alex Edmans highlighted the complexity of climate trade-offs and the need for improved literacy on the subject.

“When we think about the climate crisis, we think it is so urgent that we should stop talking and start acting,” he said.

“But the reality is much more complex. There are a variety of trade-offs where, if we pursue the climate agenda (too strongly), there might be some other types of costs to society and we need to be mindful of them.

“This is absolutely not to downplay the scale, the magnitude, the urgency of the climate crisis. But to, number one, recognise there are other considerations and, number two, if we don’t recognise those considerations then any strategy that we have to address the climate issue might run into problems and resistance.”

A panel on ‘Meeting the Climate Challenge’ featured Handelsbanken Head of Sustainability Richard Winder, Hybrid Air Vehicles CEO Tom Grundy and EDF Renewables UK and Ireland CEO Matthieu Hue. The session was moderated by Sustainable Views editor Silvia Parvoni.

‘How Regulation is supporting the Path to Net Zero’ brought together LBS Professor of Economics Lucrezia Reichlin, LBS Assistant Professor of Accounting Marcel Olbert, Technical Director of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures Emily McKenzie, and Heathrow Airport Holdings CFO Javier Echave.

The ‘Climate Transition and Emerging Markets’ panel was led by the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development and moderated by LBS Professor of Marketing Rajesh Chandy. Nick Hughes, Executive Fellow at LBS, Gaurav Mehta, Founder and CEO of Dharma Life, and Antoinette Vermilye, Co-Founder of the Gallifrey Foundation, joined the discussion.

Dr Akshat Rathi, senior Bloomberg reporter and author of Climate Capitalism closed the day with a fireside chat led by Christopher Caldwell.

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