Senior Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
December 14, 2023
Now that the gavel has closed on COP28 and the carefully negotiated text has been finalized, the rush is on to parse words and figure out who “won.” Some are hailing the agreement as historic and strong, others as full of loopholes and short of what is needed.
There is no question the final communique is significant. But to focus only on the negotiated agreement ignores the enormous commitments announced during the conference that make COP28 one of the most consequential COPs in recent memory.
It started with a groundbreaking announcement from the world’s largest oil producers—both national oil companies and private ones representing nearly half of the world’s oil production—that they will reach near-zero methane emissions and end routine flaring by 2030. From there, the positive momentum continued to build—from 124 countries joining the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge (which includes $58 billion in commitments) to 37 governments agreeing to pursue mutual certification of hydrogen, 22 countries committing to triple nuclear energy capacity, to 65 countries making the Global Cooling Pledge, and much, much more. These enormous achievements were only possible because of significant private sector engagement and cooperation.
Our U.S. Chamber team led the largest business delegation to a UN COP in history. We convened more than 20 meaningful discussions with businesses, governments, and groups from around the world. There was a clear sense of action and optimism as they discussed ways in which some of the world’s best and brightest are working around the clock on climate solutions.
Some have tried to spin the presence of so many businesses at COP28 as a bad thing. In actuality, businesses were there to share the steps their companies are taking, technologies they are developing, and investments they are making to drive climate solutions. They were there to listen, share best practices and build partnerships with colleagues around the world. Isn’t that exactly what we need?
It is time to face the reality that governments aren’t going to solve climate change by themselves. Neither will businesses. Rather, the path to success requires active participation from both, working together to cooperate on policy and technology development, while fostering an investment environment that attracts public and private capital commensurate with the challenge. But at the end of the day, it is the business community that will develop and deploy the technologies needed to drive down emissions, and make advancements in areas like food, water, agriculture, efficiency and more.
More COP28 Insights
During one of the U.S. Chamber’s many events, a business leader framed COP28 as the time when “the baton was passed”—from the public to the private sector. That’s because government commitments cannot happen without the private sector executing them. As part of this programming, we heard about the vast financial resources being allocated by banks for clean energy investment, for everything from large-scale renewable projects to small startups building hybrid airplanes. We also heard about the promising research and development underway to advance technologies like carbon capture, regenerative agriculture, a clean hydrogen economy, and more. The list goes on.
That is the real story of COP28. From the beginning, COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber made it clear that this was to be a COP of action. The U.S. Chamber and the business community heeded that call and showed up with actions. And as he closed COP28, Al-Jaber said, “An agreement is only as good as its implementation. We are what we do, not what we say."
Business is doing. Business is delivering climate solutions. The evidence was all over COP28. And we know that work will continue.
About the authors
Martin (Marty) Durbin is Senior Vice President of Policy and President of the Global Energy Institute (GEI) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Durbin leads GEI’s efforts to build support for meaningful energy action through policy development, education, and advocacy, making it a go-to voice for commonsense energy solutions.