Thank you for your kind introduction.
And thank you to the CBI for hosting this important event to discuss how businesses can lead the transition to net zero.
I have already spoken at this conference when I assumed this role of President designate of the COP,
But at that time, we had a virtual audience.
So I think it’s absolutely wonderful that we’re in person and can have these face-to-face conversations.
And I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the companies that supported COP26, especially our main sponsors and other supporters who are also here today.
Now friends, just over six months have passed since COP26, where, together with partners around the world and under the leadership of the UK, nearly 200 countries agreed to the landmark Glasgow Climate Pact.
And this Pact paved the way for a clean global future, and it kept alive the possibility of limiting the average rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
I want to thank all of you who were there, and many of you I know in this room were there with us on the banks of the Clyde,
And of course, it was one of the first COPs where we also had huge representation from the business community.
And I hope this is something that will continue at future COPs.
I want to thank you for all the commitments you have made as individual companies and for all the work you have done to push us, as governments, to do more.
However, in recent months, the world has changed.
Clouds darkened over the international landscape.
With Putin’s illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine, war has returned to Europe.
The tectonic plates of our geopolitics have shifted and continue to shift.
We also know that inflation is skyrocketing all over the world.
We see the debt piling up.
We see energy prices rising.
And around the world, people are struggling to feed their families, as we continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
So what I would say to you is that in essence, and the framing of this conference recognizes this, we are meeting against a backdrop of global crisis and geopolitical turbulence.
And yet, the current crises should increase, not diminish, our resolve to deliver on the commitments we collectively made in Glasgow.
And I would say the evidence for action is unequivocal.
Many of you have seen the recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations intergovernmental body on climate change, which have clearly indicated that the window of time we have left to act closes.
And frankly it closes quickly.
Inaction, or delayed action, will create immense additional risks and costs.
Now, I know everyone here avidly reads the reports that the OBR put out, and you will have seen a risk report last year that they put out that predicted that runaway climate change could lead to a public debt reaching a staggering 289% of GDP by the end of the century.
Think about it.
And as the science has become more evident, the risks have become clearer, and the calls for action have intensified, the opportunities presented by the fight against climate change are ever more evident.
And I think the fact that you’re all here suggests that you agree with that proposition.
Now, I would say net zero is one of the clearest economic trends that has ever existed.
It is frankly broad in scope, encompasses all countries and – I think you are representative of that – it encompasses all sectors.
And that represents a great economic opportunity.
I see it in the conversations I have.
It is grabbed by companies, by countries and financial institutions, of course in the UK and even around the world.
Everyone recognizes that net zero is about providing an economic and environmental dividend.
Now, some of you will remember our ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, which we released in late 2020. We launched it when I was business secretary.
More recently, of course, we’ve had our Net Zero strategy and our recent energy security strategy,
And all of this together is aimed at mobilizing tens of billions of pounds of private sector investment by 2030 into our economy, and of course supporting hundreds of thousands of green jobs.
It is therefore national territory.
But what you also see around the world, the IEA, the International Energy Agency, has estimated that around 30 million new workers will be needed by 2030 to meet the increased demand in the economy own.
And the ILO, the International Labor Organization, has predicted that some sectors could see four times as many jobs created as they are lost.
So I’m really pleased that the CBI has brought this group together today to discuss exactly how we can pick up the pace on the road to net zero.
And my main message to you is actually quite simple.
If we want to deliver the Glasgow Climate Pact,
if we are to seize the opportunities and avoid the costs I have mentioned, the role of business will be absolutely crucial.
We need the innovation, influence and energy of the private sector.
We need changes across our economy.
We need action from business, to keep up the pressure and encourage action from governments around the world.
And, frankly, the direction of travel is already clear.
So when the UK took over the organization of the COP26 presidency, less than 30% of the global economy was covered by a net zero target.
By the time we arrived at COP26, it was over 90%.
And you will see it in terms of commitments made by financial institutions to reach net zero.
Here in the UK, 60% of UK companies on the FTSE100 have also committed to net zero.
And I hope you’ll agree with me, we’re moving into a clean and green future, with huge opportunities for those at the forefront, and risks I’m afraid for those who don’t. are not.
Now you all recognize that here, and many of you have signed up for the UN Race to Zero campaign.
We had 5,000 international companies committed by COP26 to net zero by 2050 or earlier.
Since COP26, this momentum has continued, we still have 2,000 companies.
This is not about committing to some vague aspiration to some distant point in the future, but to clear, science-based transition plans.
We can go further, we can push with the buying and investing power you have to drive change – switching to clean energy and replacing polluting vehicles with clean ones.
And of course you can work with your trade associations and supply chains, both in the UK and overseas, to make sustainability an integral part of doing business.
What I would say to you is that we will be working collectively, governments and companies, on the road to COP27 in less than six months.
By the time we get there, we will have to show that the commitments we have made lead to action.
Because the reality is that just like we hold ourselves accountable.
Our people will do the same.
And future generations will wonder if we are indeed collectively rising to the challenge.
And I have to tell you my friends.
We must do this for the future of our planet.