COP28: UK-Canada Perspectives

RBC Capital Markets was pleased to host the British Consul General to Toronto to discuss key takeaways from COP28, implications for Canada and the UK, and the role of financial institutions in the transition to a net zero economy.

Published December 22, 2023 | 3 min read

The UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, held in Dubai from November 30th to December 13th, 2023, was marked by numerous historic decisions, including the first-ever global agreement to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels. While the agreement signifies a major shift in global priorities, the specific details of the transition have yet to be ironed out. Our panel discussed what’s next for governments and businesses, noting that the financial sector will play a significant role in solidifying a climate-friendly future.

Charting a green course: unveiling the financial roadmap to a sustainable future

During his address at COP28, King Charles III highlighted the critical role that finance will play in transitioning away from fossil fuels, estimating that approximately 5 trillion dollars would need to be mobilized annually. The burden of financing this transition can only be achieved through collaboration between public, private, philanthropic, and NGO sectors, a sentiment shared by our panel.

Banking on the future: why the financial sector is key to winning the climate battle

The UK is aiming to be the world’s first net zero aligned financial center, highlighting the pivotal role that the financial sector must play in supporting and transitioning to a net-zero economy by 2050. Financial institutions will support this global transition by heavily investing in low-carbon and sustainable projects, technologies, and businesses. While this will require changes in current practices and behaviors, our panelists shared optimism and highlighted the pragmatism and action-oriented mindset that was displayed throughout COP28.

From words to action: implementing the COP28 Loss and Damage Fund for maximum impact

​​Many developing countries at COP28 painted a stark picture of their current predicament: they bear the brunt of climate change's devastating impacts with limited resources to cope, often lacking the necessary infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events while contending with the resulting economic ramifications. The Loss and Damage Fund is a monumental step in addressing the impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries; wealthier nations, historically responsible for a larger share of greenhouse gas emissions, will provide financial support to developing countries disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change.

However, our panelists noted that the Loss and Damage Fund is only one part of the picture; improving the effectiveness and draw-down capabilities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is critical to ensure that developing countries build resilience through adaptation and mitigation projects. One panelist stressed the need for effective data management and performance measurement tools; deploying technologies or strategies without understanding their effectiveness can lead to wasted resources and missed opportunities.

Bridging the affordability gap: strategies for making eco-friendly living accessible to all

While much of the progress on COP28 focused on energy supply, the panel unanimously agreed on the importance of supporting the shift in consumer demand towards lower carbon products and services. The high cost of sustainable products can often act as a barrier for consumers who want to make environmentally conscious choices. Several avenues are being explored to bridge this affordability gap and incentivize the adoption of sustainable products.

Green gold rush: geopolitical implications from the rise of the clean energy sector

COP28 is a moment in time to assess global progress on climate change but also reflect on individual national contributions.   One panelist took note of the significant advancements being made by Saudi Arabia and China, propelled by financial investments and ambitious clean energy strategies, particularly in the area of green hydrogen technology. As the world shifts towards lower carbon energy sources, there will undoubtedly be geopolitical implications and, potentially, a shift in global energy leadership.  Reliance on foreign technology and competition against well-entrenched players presents a formidable challenge, with the potential to impact future energy security and economic competitiveness. The panelists urge Western nations, notably Canada, the US and the UK, to work together and initiate strategic discussions on accelerating their clean energy initiatives to match the pace and scale seen by other nations. At the industrial level, the UK and Canada are doing just this through the COP26-launched Breakthrough Agendas which aim to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions in heavy emitting sectors the most affordable, accessible and attractive options by 2030. Breakthroughs now address seven critical sectors – power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, agriculture, buildings, and cement and concrete, covering over 60% of global emissions. 

The roundtable took place on December 14th and was moderated by Lindsay Patrick, Head of Strategy & ESG at RBC Capital Markets, and Fouzia Younis MBE, British Consul General to Toronto. The roundtable included a distinguished panel of experts and thought leaders, including Faraz Khan MBE, CEO & Partner of SpectrEco, John Stackhouse, Senior Vice President, Office of the CEO, RBC, and Jennifer Livingstone, Vice President, Enterprise Climate Strategy, RBC.

Stay Informed

Get the latest insights and news from RBC Capital Markets delivered to your inbox.