Former prime minister Theresa May today led calls from British businesses to keep the 1.5 degree Paris climate target alive, as the UN climate talks finally reached a fraught conclusion in Egypt.

May chairs the Aldersgate Group, which convenes FTSE100 companies, industrial heavy-hitters, green academics and financiers in addressing the globe’s climate emergency.

Agreements reached at COP27 do not stress enough speed in nations’ reducing use of all fossil fuels, the UK group believes,  nor meet calls from G20 leaders last week for nations to step up their funding commitments needed to meet the 1.5 degree warming limit.

Only as the sun arose on Sunday morning did sleep-deprived delegates representing 196 countries at the UN’s CoP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh sign an outline plan, pledging up to $ 100 billion to poor countries ravaged by floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels, all attributable to a warming climate.

Aldersgate, whose UK members command combined sales over £ 550 billion, believes all major emitting nations should in 2023 boost their declarations towards cutting emissions.

Such commitments by governments would release urgent, already prepared investments by businesses in energy efficiency, low carbon technologies and measures adapting humanity to soaring temperatures & rising sea levels.

During COP27’s two weeks, a reported cabal of more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists pushed against India’s proposal to agree to the phasing down of all fossil fuels instead of just coal, as had been agreed in Glasgow last year.

As Aldersgate Group chair and former premier May said: “The United Kingdom has played a leading role in encouraging action on climate change. After COP27, the UK government must not only progress our own climate change agenda but continue to promote and strengthen that coordinated global action.

“Reaching Net Zero and conserving our environment for future generations relies on all of us working together,” the ex-Prime Minister went on. “Many countries face difficult times, but by making the right decisions over the next few years, we can meet our climate and environmental targets in a way that creates jobs and can be good for economies and good for our planet.”

Nick Molho, her executive director, echoed the Conservative ex-PM: “Despite an important breakthrough on loss and damage, COP27 did not go far enough to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and ramp up climate targets around the world.

“Rapidly increasing clean energy investment worldwide, and with ever more businesses taking on net zero targets, we see that market trends are well ahead of the global political consensus. The urgency and benefits of tackling climate change are recognised by large parts of the private sector”, said Molho.

“By rapidly plugging the gaps in its Net Zero Strategy, the UK Government can unleash the significant private low carbon investment needed to build a prosperous, resilient and net zero emissions economy in the UK and set an important international precedent in doing so.”

“Businesses recognise that delivering on global climate and environmental commitments is not only essential to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but also a major economic opportunity that could help solve key current challenges related to low investment, the cost of living and energy security.

Molho quoted a total of $226 bn invested globally in renewable energy in 2022’s first half, up 11% on 2021’s opening six months. Renewables and grid storage now make up 80% of new investment worldwide in power generation, he added, citing IEA figures from June 2022.

Insurance giant Aviva’s head of responsible investment Steve Waygood added: “The focus of this COP was supposed to be implementation.

“It’s clear the implementation gap is growing, at a time when we need to shrink it rapidly.
We need greater commitment to transition plans across the private sector but also need guidance from governments to support their climate pledges.”


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