Christian Mumenthaler, Group Chief Executive Officer at Swiss Re, has suggested that despite COP27 negotiations leaving plenty of unfinished business, he remains “optimistic” that societies will be willing to set aside differences to achieve climate resilience goals.
Writing in a blog post for Swiss Re, Mumenthaler noted that the COP27 climate summit illustrated just how tough it is to achieve global consensus on key issues such as the emission cuts necessary to fulfil the 2015 Paris agreement.
He added that in an increasingly fragmented world, with leaders more focused on national or regional interests, “working together remains critical to solving challenges like climate change, which transcend borders.”
Mumenthaler wrote, “We did see some alignment, including on initiatives to scale up climate finance and a pact for wealthier nations to help developing countries hit by climate catastrophes.
“Still, by the time the 45,000 attendees left Egypt, negotiators representing different nations and diverging interests fell short of aligning behind more ambitious emission cuts needed to limit global temperature increases at around 1.5 degrees Celsius. As a society, we’re still not on track.”
He continued, “Against this sobering backdrop, government and business leaders now preparing for the 2023 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting this January in Davos, Switzerland, are asking themselves a fundamental question inspired by the theme of this year’s meeting: How can we strengthen global cooperation to tackle society’s biggest challenges in a world that’s growing more fragmented?”
Though the COP27 negotiations left “plenty of unfinished business”, the talks also offered some positive takeaways, which Mumenthaler said will hopefully propel toward more progress at COP28 in Dubai next year.
In the post, he noted how world leaders preserved the 1.5C temperature increase limit, despite pressure to retreat.
Meanwhile, The “loss and damage” agreement that emerged was an initial step to providing funding for vulnerable nations to recover from climate-related disasters.
Mumenthaler stated that this essential climate adaptation demonstrates that global cooperation is alive, even if many of the details still must be worked out.
He added, “The COP27 push for reforms to the global financial system to scale up climate finance is welcome.
“Refreshing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s mandates to address climate challenges will enable multilateral institutions that since World War II have helped preserve stability and prosperity to stay relevant in a multi-polar world.”
Efforts like these, even in their infancy, have driven Mumenthaler to be optimistic societies remain willing to set aside differences to achieve goals that transcend narrower interests.
“Optimism might seem a bit daring these days, but mine is fueled by history – a history that tells me cooperation remains the answer for a fragmented world seeking to solve its most difficult problems,” he said.
Mumenthaler also cited the G20 conference in Indonesia, which was preceded by a long-awaited meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He noted that while differences remain, these face-to-face talks are an important stepping stone to future dialogue, adding, “This is very encouraging, not just for China and the US, but for the world.”
“Biden and Xi’s agreement to resume cooperation on climate change, which came in the midst of COP27, also signals a momentum shift,” he said.
“Without the US and China working together on shared commitments to cutting emissions, reaching the Paris agreement’s targets will be more than challenging.”
“As co-chair of the WEF Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, I can say unequivocally that revitalised cooperation between the world’s two largest economies on reining in global greenhouse gas emissions comes as welcome news for the Alliance’s 125 members.”
He added that he is looking forward to again meeting stakeholders at the WEF Annual Meeting – and beyond – to help drive climate action forward.