COP27: Delivering action on commitments

A collective call to urgently ramp up climate action and support.

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The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 6-18 November 2022. ISO and its members join ranks with world change makers to showcase how International Standards help transform climate commitments into action. Our coverage of COP27 provides an overview and greater insights of ISO’s work in this area, from in-depth features to thought-provoking think pieces. 

“Partnership” may well emerge as the defining theme of COP27, and was central to many of its sessions. The summit itself has offered a rare opportunity for world leaders, government, policy makers, business, organizations, academics, scientists and more to come together to discuss the world’s collective climate goals.

Increasingly, it is apparent that tackling climate change requires wholesale collaboration and focused commitment to solutions. Without this, climate-related problems will magnify, affecting the security of essential supplies – including water, food and energy – globally.

Standards are part of the solution to many of the complex climate-related challenges we face.

COP27 highlighted how cooperation and collaboration are the most effective means to address these issues, as well as revealing how ISO standards are at the forefront of climate action. Standards offer this framework ready-made, making universally accepted standards – of the type ISO produces – indispensable to accelerating climate action.

Given the months of high-level expertise, debate and research that go into creating standards, it is increasingly apparent that these products are rapidly becoming part of the solution to many of the complex climate-related challenges we face.

Standards in action

Among these challenges is addressing carbon emissions. Efforts to reduce, capture and offset carbon emissions featured high on the agenda throughout COP27. During the summit, ISO launched its flagship Net Zero Guidelines, which were universally well received.

These guidelines offer three things: a standardized definition of net zero and related concepts, which is essential as policy makers and regulators seek to set unified targets worldwide; guidance on how net zero should be incorporated into initiatives, strategies and policies; and a basis for accountability mechanisms and measurements, including invaluable reporting indicators.

Speaking during the Net Zero Guidelines launch, ISO President Ulrika Francke underlined the organization’s aim to “increase positive impact worldwide”, ensuring that the guidelines have “the broadest possible reach”. Praise for the guidelines has been high, with many describing them as “a core reference text” or “a common reference point” on net zero that encourages the development of robust climate standards and sustainability solutions.

Highlighting ISO’s influence and the store by which government and policy makers hold its standards, the United Nations recognized the organization as an important non-state actor in developing climate standards. In a newly released UN report, Integrity Matters: Net Zero Commitments by Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities and Regions, International Standards were called upon to “lay out broadly agreed ground rules for mass adoption, particularly across borders”.

COP27’s themed days also saw the importance of ISO standards reiterated. In areas as diverse as finance, agriculture, water, gender, energy and civil society, ISO standards are making a difference. 

Shared challenges, shared solutions

Considering the extent of the challenge ahead is daunting. ISO understands, however, that from shared challenges emerge shared opportunities. The energy crisis offers an occasion to scale up attempts to decarbonize economies globally and green business models, setting the planet and its ecosystems onto a far healthier trajectory. To achieve this, collaboration and shared commitment to common goals will be essential.

In the spirit of this, the summit saw ISO and its partners – including the ITC, UNFCCC and WMO – host events ranging from the role standards play in energy efficiency, to mitigating the negative impacts of climate change and transforming the climate actions of global economies.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to tackle climate change, but we have the collective tools, knowledge and some of the technology to do it.

COP27 marked the 50th year since world leaders first met to discuss the effects of human socioeconomic activities on the environment at the Human Environment Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Fifty years ago, it would have been inconceivable to have any organization, business or academic institution represented at an event like the one in Stockholm. Now it is regarded as essential and, as a result, ISO operates at the highest levels in the international arena.

At ISO, we’ve understood that everyone needs to play a part in tackling climate change. We have a lot of work ahead of us, particularly by the end of this defining decade, but we have the collective tools, knowledge and some of the technology to do it. The COP27 summit highlighted the progress that has been made, but with common commitment and collaboration, we can achieve much more.

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