Our latest ‘Critical Conversation’ podcast features an exclusive discussion with Rachel Kyte (former CEO of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All; Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University) on the high stakes at COP26, the urgent need for climate finance, and implications for companies.
Rachel Kyte is a leading voice on climate change and sustainable development, and a recipient of numerous awards for leadership on climate action and sustainability. She has been Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University since 2019. Rachel previously served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). Rachel is also a member of Critical Resource’s Senior Advisory Panel.
This 30-minute conversation was recorded on 24 August 2021, and was moderated by Daniel Litvin, Founder and Managing Partner of Critical Resource.
Among the key points raised by Rachel:
- Paris was about ‘what’ can we do to combat climate change; now it’s the time of ‘how’. This needs to be the focus of COP26 in Glasgow. We are perilously close to irreversible change to the climate and we don’t have time to delay climate action – we have to front-load the race to net zero.
- Securing adequate supplies of a Covid-19 vaccine is the main priority for a lot of countries right now – but we are failing the test of international solidarity and cooperation on vaccines. If we can’t cooperate on a global vaccine programme, how are we going to organise ourselves around a global energy transition that is fast enough?
- We have seen an extraordinary flurry of companies and financial sector organisations pledging to get to net zero. Among these pledges we have the good, the bad and the ugly – and following COP26, there will be a reckoning on some of these pledges. Ultimately, the race to zero is not one where one company wins over another, we only win when everybody comes over the finishing line together.
- Voluntary carbon markets are gaining a lot of traction – but we are flying the plane while we are still building it. There are a number of voluntary markets around, but we urgently need to develop clear rules around these markets in a way that ensures their integrity.
- The noose is tightening on fossil fuels if we are to abide by the science. The bell has already been tolling on coal for quite a while, but it’s no longer enough to simply let coal’s tail slither out of the door – we need to decide how to cut it off. With each new scientific report, the platform upon which the oil and gas industry has to pivot becomes tighter.
- Often, companies use the fact that ESG standards are complicated to excuse a lack of action. But company executives know their business. While the ESG business needs to sort itself out and become clearer, companies can make different choices.