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COP27 is nearly on us and as the world’s leaders descend on Sharm El Sheikh we are gearing up for another busy few weeks in comms activity.

A big concern is that momentum is slowing. The lofty, ambitious pledges declared in Glasgow at COP26 weren’t contending with a war Ukraine, raging inflation and a cost of living crisis, and spiraling energy prices. The world was a very different place a year ago.

As a result, there are concerns that a lot of the good that was done, is being undone. Mark Carney is having to publicly deny reports that members are leaving his alliance of asset managers and banks, GFANZ. And on the back of higher energy prices, oil and gas is back on the menu for many in the corporate sector.

COP27 can be a big beast tackle. So here are three insights that are worth knowing if you are yet to sink your teeth into the agenda, or start thinking about how you or your firm should be communicating around this year’s agenda. 

  1. Implementation in the spotlight: with implementation being front and centre of this year’s Summit, a lot of focus needs to turn to the tangible actions or solutions that fully operationalize the Paris Agreement. This roughly translates into initiatives and efforts to reduce emissions, drive adaptation to climate change, and deliver capital to developing nations most effective that helps them address damage from climate change and transition as well.

There needs to be greater attention on how to reduce the gap between targets and reality through tangible actions and solutions is expected to be a focus. This shift towards an emphasis on action came through in our research from earlier in the year, where media and comms people we spoke with focused on this precise issue.

Companies and governments need to focus on the “how”. This needs to resonate in communications activity with tangible examples, case studies and authentic insights that demonstrate the path to action.

  1. “Loss and damage” funding: a hotly debated issue at last year in Glasgow, where essentially delegates agreed something needed to be done (with no detail thus far) to ensure developing countries which receive the brunt of climate-related damage, but in practice emit very little carbon.

This year the emphasis is on finding a solution that goes beyond adhoc examples of this (as we’ve seen recently with Denmark, and last year with Scotland). The hope is that consensus can be reached.

Sensitive communications on this issue will be critical. There are many stakeholders to consider. This comes at a time that state finances are under pressure around the world due to high energy costs and pandemic economic measures. A plan, and compromise from developing nations, will be important.

  1. Un-hindered climate finance: related to this is the ability for pledged private capital to reach its intended goal. Aside from the hugely important point that poorer countries haven't yet benefitted from this on a large scale, more needs to be done to de-risking strategies for investors. There needs to be more of an impetus to create working relationships between public sector development and private capital, and create and environment where this capital and the projects they finance can succeed.

Solutions that can highlight how they are facilitating this flow of capital, and building this kind of synergy, will be critical. Moreover, as many commentators operating in environmental markets have said – the world needs good news stories. Showing how solutions are achieving their goals and making progress is what the climate action movement needs.

Communications of course plays a role in all of these. Any narrative needs to be authoritative, authentic and compelling. The examples need to be tangible and they need to be supported by data, anecdote and insight.

Communications can be an important sounding board and quality check through this process. There is an important opportunity to change gear, to focus on action and demonstrate the change needed to maintain momentum.  

Charlie Morrow is a Director in Cognito’s London office and heads up the agency’s Sustainability Practice.