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ICAEW roundtable facilitates business dialogue with climate scientists

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 14 Sep 2022

An ICAEW-hosted event has brought together business representatives with scientists to translate the science of climate change mitigation into practical actions.

Business representatives this summer had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable to inform the shape of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Summary for Urban Policymakers (SUP) – to help guide cities and businesses with their future urban investment decisions.

The meeting brought together business representatives with worldwide urban policymakers and the IPCC’s scientific authors. The fruits of their conversations will be used to inform a report based on the latest scientific data on climate change due to be launched at COP27.

ICAEW hosted the IPCC SUP Global Dialogue organised by Resilience First, in partnership with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), the German Government, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and The Resilience Shift.

The IPCC latest progress report is very large and complex, despite being split into various component parts. As it stands, it is of limited use for policy decision makers as it is too complex and overwhelming for those outside of the scientific community. 

The supplementary guidance is looking to address these issues and ultimately to help guide cities and businesses with their future urban investment decisions based on the latest scientific data on climate change from the UN’s international panel of scientific authors and distilled into a short, simplified report that aims to be more accessible for the public and city policymakers. 

Lia Cairone, Director, Sustainability and Resiliency, Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget of The City of New York, who participated in the event, said it was “an extraordinary opportunity to gain a better understanding of what the latest science means for those of us who need to take action on the ground”.

In particular, Cairone said the chance for city practitioners and business leaders to meet with and engage in direct dialogue with leading climate scientists from around the globe had been hugely beneficial.

“Something I’ve learned in engaging in both the development of the Summary for Urban Policymakers for the IPCC Special Report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, and now the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, is that the scientific community and the policy making community speak very different languages. Without this opportunity for dialogue, we cannot effectively translate the languages we’re speaking and hear one another. 

“And because we’ve brought together experts from around the world who are tackling climate from different perspectives, we gain so much through diversity of thought and experience, and we've managed to unlock truly creative thinking and rich and well-informed discussion,” Cairone said.

Cairone said the biggest barriers to change for urban policymakers ranged from siloed thinking and siloed organisational structures to lack of access to sufficient technical and financial resources. “We need to get much better at aligning efforts across levels of government, from municipalities to states and regions to national governments.” 

Partnering with the private sector, academic institutions, and with local communities was also vital to ensure success, Cairone said. “Of course, not all cities face the same challenges, but because there’s so much work to be done on such an accelerated timeline, we must do all we can to learn from one another and leverage and scale successful models for action, for climate governance, and for climate finance.”

The international community has focused almost exclusively on national governments to combat the climate crisis excluding major cities, which are “the most under-supported, under-leveraged climate action engines on earth”, Cairone said. And yet cities represent the majority of the global population and are responsible for most of the world’s emissions.

“That’s changing thanks to this effort and thanks to the fact that cities have been leading the way and innovating where national governments have been unable for years,” she said.

For example, New York City has legislated to require large buildings to cut their greenhouse gas emissions through the Climate Mobilization Act and is investing billions of dollars into energy efficiency, coastal protection, and flood resilience. 

Cairone said the aim of having shorter, simplified supplements of the full IPCC reports is to make climate science accessible to city policymakers, who typically don’t have the background or the time to dig into all the details of climate science. 

“It presents the science in the most concise and action-oriented way possible and is specifically tailored for decision- and policymakers in the world’s cities and urban areas, whether that be mayors, CEOs, chief sustainability and resiliency officers, budget directors, or utility directors. Without strong and urgent action at the city level, limiting global heating to 1.5°C will not be possible. With these reports city policymakers can create more informed and data-driven climate action plans to reach our collective climate goals,” she said.

The simplified reports will also be more accessible to the general public, increasing transparency and accessibility of climate information, and helping people better understand what action is necessary and why this action is needed.

“If we learn from one another and get this right, ultimately climate action – like electrifying our buildings, shifting to clean and healthy modes of transportation, and investing in resiliency projects to protect against extreme heat, floods, and storms – will lead to improved health and safety, better air quality, job creation, and improved quality of life for our residents.”

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