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Lessons from COP26

Why lasting impact of summit should be judged on COP27 commitments

9 December 2021 |
Empty talk needs to be replaced with concrete agreements and targets, says Vicky Sins, climate and energy lead, World Benchmarking Alliance.
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This content was created in partnership with Citywire and written by Simon Constable.

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We really would like to see movement into the action and performance stage, rather than just giving commitments.

Vicky Sins

Vicky Sins

Climate and energy lead, World Benchmarking Alliance

Now is the time for the great and the good to walk the talk about saving the planet, that’s the message from one climate expert attending the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow.

‘We always like to see more ambition and more tangible outcomes, rather than nice words,’ says Vicky Sins, climate and energy lead at World Benchmarking Alliance.

Sins, who was invited to speak at Federated Hermes’ ‘Further, Faster Conference’, acknowledges that what has been promised by many leaders is great, but alone it is not enough. ‘We really would like to see movement into the action and performance stage, rather than just giving commitments.’

In other words, the world not only wants to know what leaders in business and government are planning to do to move to sustainable business models, but also, what are the details of how those promises will come to fruition. ‘You can’t get away with just those empty overarching statements,’ Sins says. ‘People really want to see how you are going to fulfill those commitments that you’re setting.’

Sins sees a tangible change for our day-to-day lives coming out of the COP26 summit, which attracted almost 40,000 delegates. These changes she believes, could become a reality faster if given an extra boost from the right rules and regulations.

Put simply, with appropriate rules business leaders will find it far easier to lead the charge in making economies more sustainable.

Good news coming out of the COP26 summit was the realisation of the potential for the financial sector to be a driving force, Sins says. ‘I’ve learned, so far, that there is at least the willingness [for the financial sector] to pick up their role and to step forward into making a contribution to the change,’ she says.

The commitment of bankers and investors to steering companies to more sustainable business models is vital. Large institutional investors can get access to key decision-makers and exert influence, especially particularly true with bond investors, as at least some corporate borrowings typically get refinanced each year.

Sins however is sceptical about the lasting influence or impact of the conference if there aren’t some concrete agreements and targets. ‘I would like to encourage that we would also look at COP27 and tangibly agree what change we want to see by then,’ she says. ‘Then I would be confident that it will have a lasting impact.’

The International business of Federated Hermes was present at COP26 in Glasgow in two significant capacities.

The group’s CEO Saker Nusseibeh CBE spoke during the World Leaders Summit, underlining Federated Hermes’ commitment to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030 and to announce its joining of the Natural Capital Investment Alliance which was created by HRH The Prince of Wales under his Sustainable Markets Initiative. The initiative aims to accelerate the development of Natural Capital as a mainstream investment theme. Both commitments are important steps to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Federated Hermes also hosted its own ‘Further, Faster Conference’ at their ‘Fringe Festival’ site in Glasgow on land owned within its sustainable property portfolio. The two-day event welcomed investors, fund managers and experts from all areas of sustainability to exchange ideas on how to address the three interlinked emergencies of Climate, Nature and Social Injustice. Click here to see more details on the event.

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The value of investments and income from them may go down as well as up, and you may not get back the original amount invested. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the author and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other communications. This does not constitute a solicitation or offer to any person to buy or sell any related securities or financial instruments.

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