As this issue of the magazine goes to print, the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as COP27, is well underway in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh resort, and the tone is urgent.

In his opening address, UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said this year’s session is being held as the planet’s population is nudging eight billion, as greenhouse gas emissions are growing, and as global temperatures continue rising – a set of circumstances he described as a “highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”.

It is six years since the Paris Agreement was signed, and Guterres is now calling for a new, historic pact between developed and emerging economies – a Climate Solidarity Pact that would see all countries making extra efforts to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5 degree goal, and one that would see wealthier countries, and even financial institutions, support developing countries with their own transitions. This new pact would also end dependence on fossil fuels and the building of new coal plants – phasing out coal in OECD countries by 2030, and by 2040 elsewhere.

The COP27 Egyptian presidency wants to radically accelerate the delivery of countries’ climate pledges, following the failure of developed countries to hit the US$100bn target set for 2020.

For the UK, COP27 was an opportunity (albeit one taken at the last minute) for Rishi Sunak to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to supporting countries on the frontline of climate change, as the new prime minister announced a major international climate package, including £65.5m for green tech innovation and significant clean energy investments in Kenya and Egypt; and a new Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership pledging more than £150m for the protection of rainforests and natural habitats, including the Congo Basin and Amazon.

Handing over the baton to Egypt on the opening day of the summit, Sunak referred to the existential threat that climate change is already posing around the world – from catastrophic floods in Pakistan to drought in Somalia – pledging to triple funding for climate adaptation, from £500m in 2019 to £1.5bn in 2025.

These announcements are part of wider Government plans to facilitate green innovation and energy transition in the UK and globally, which, in addition to helping the drive for net-zero, aims to reduce the global demand for oil and gas that is funding Russia’s war machine.

The emphasis at this year’s summit was very much about avoiding rather than adapting to climate change. A similar urgency was conveyed by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and The Climate Crisis Advisory Group in a joint report that warned of an impending ‘ruin scenario’ for global society, even under the targets set out in the Glasgow Pact of 2021.

The report calls for policymakers and stakeholders to take a risk management approach to identify, measure and mitigate the effects of further temperature rises, supporting the broader effort to build resilience and climate adaptation into national and international systems, as extreme events become more frequent.

As Gillian Davidson writes in this issue of CIR, large-scale disasters have affected every continent of the world in the last twelve months, including unprecedented flooding across Australia, China, Pakistan and South Africa, and one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the US.

This issue, we also look at a report which examines how extreme biodiversity loss, widespread pollution and over-consumption of natural resources are presenting direct challenges to business and industry, and suggests new tools and frameworks for their assessment.

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