Manar El Batran – Manager, Strategy& (MBA 2020) a personal perspective

I believe that COP27 presents an opportunity for the international community to come together to address climate change and its adverse impacts; and to acknowledge the fact that it is no longer a novel topic, but a serious threat living among us all.

It’s time for everyone; governments, enterprises, households, and individuals, to pause and ask the question; how can we do things differently to minimise the threat and turn the needle towards a more positive, more sustainable way of living?

As an Egyptian, I am personally excited to see the COP27 hosted by Egypt, in Sharm El Sheikh, as part of the country’s pledge towards a more sustainable world.

Ahmed Raafat – Managing Partner, Giza Capital Partners, (MBA 2019) a personal perspective

I take pride in seeing COP27 happening in Egypt and in seeing several of my friends from across the Cambridge Judge Business School network, playing an active role in global policy development.

So, what is COP? And why it is important now more than ever?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. The first COP kicked off in 1995 in Berlin and was designed to be a follow-up mechanism for the 197 countries that are involved in the commitment towards combating climate change and introducing sustainability measures. Countries meet on an annual basis to renew their commitments and introduce new measures that are critical to climate change. COP27 will be held this year in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

This is a significant event for Egypt and the world, and it is important now more than ever. While climate change was front and centre of global discussions, as well as the world still scrambling out of the Covid situation and facing unprecedented economical challenges. On top of that, climate change has been progressing adversely. We have seen floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms, and wildfires, breaking records with alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa, as well as in the United States of America.

Given all of that, action on climate change is needed now more than ever. Forms of action might differ from one location to another. But I just want to mention three recommendations from personal experience:

  • Government and Private sector role

Governments should act as enablers for the change towards a more sustainable way of living through regulations and incentives while giving more space to the private sector, who by design are cost-effective and efficiency-driven. However, incentives could be potentially misleading. We have seen in some cases related to rooftop solar panels in Europe when the government’s incentives were lifted, a severe drop in rooftop installations happened. Thus, incentives should be designed with long-term success in mind. Besides, governments should work towards de-risking private investments by supporting startup costs, especially for nascent technologies that will need some time to be more affordable and economically viable.

  • Startup support

While there has been rallying support for clean-tech and sustainable startups, I believe that capital invested in the space is still marginal compared to investments in other sectors such as technology and fintech. Thus, more investments are needed in the sector. It is critical to understand that venture capital investments in clean tech are different in nature where it is long-term oriented, slower-growth profile, and sometimes require high initial capital contrary to the asset-lite models preferred by private investors.

  • Measuring and reporting

Being able to measure the outcomes of combating climate change is critical. So, I highly advocate setting a global standard for measuring impact and sustainability. This will help stakeholders to quantify the impact (positive or negative) of the efforts to be able to manage them accordingly and take corrective actions.

Finally, Egypt is the host of COP27. I want to shed some light on Egypt’s focus on climate change and sustainability. There have been tremendous efforts dedicated to Egypt’s commitment to the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals. Some of them are in the space of solar energy, electrical mobility, and green hydrogen. Egypt has set an ambitious target to produce 40% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035. One example of Egypt’s effort in Solar energy is the development of Benban solar park; one of the largest photo voltaic solar farms in the world with a potential annual capacity of 4 terawatts. For electric mobility, Egypt has been moving forward with building the required infrastructure of electric charging, waiving customs on electric vehicles, and supporting local production of electrical vehicles as well as introducing electrical trains; one of which will be a $24 B project to connect major cities in Egypt. Also, related to mobility, Egypt has been advocating for the use of automobiles powered by natural gas as a cleaner alternative to petrol. Finally, Egypt has set a vision to be a green hydrogen hub given it is geographical location and strong ties with the EU.

I hope that COP27 will be a step closer to global unity toward combating climate change and introducing more sustainable ways of living on Earth.