Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, said: “The coalition’s members are truly the ‘First Movers’ who are focused on scaling disruptive innovations that pave the way for long-term transformation rather than the lower-hanging fruit of short-term process efficiency gains.
“Once the tipping point is reached in the market, the First Movers Coalition will demonstrate that a Net or Near Zero transformation across the value chain is not only possible, but that it will be no more expensive than the high-emitting alternative.”
Further support for the work came from Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Finance: “Sweden is proud to be joining the First Movers Coalition as a government partner. With a number of Swedish business actors already members of the coalition, we look forward to encouraging more actors to join as well as supporting the development of innovative solutions to facilitate the transition to Net Zero globally.”
And Koichi Hagiuda, Japan’s Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, said, “Japan will be a ‘First Mover’ country to become a strategic partner of the First Mover Coalition.”
Why This Way?
WEF explains the majority of decarbonisation required across aluminium, aviation, chemicals, concrete, shipping, trucking and steel, as well as the negative emissions needed for Net Zero through carbon dioxide removal cannot be achieved by the slow and small efficiency gains offered by existing materials and technology solutions.
This is a polite way of saying some big issues with climate, right now, have no solution. There’s no totally viable, commercial way to fly benignly today, for example. It all means that someone has to stake some serious cash on a solution. Businesses have the scope to do this and make a profit if and when the tech comes good, but they need assurance government policy won’t change and stymie their investment.
WEF argues that today’s most commercially competitive clean energy technologies, such as renewable wind and solar energy, are decarbonising the electric power system; but on their own they cannot clean up steelmaking, shipping, aviation and other hard-to-abate sectors.
In these spaces, the necessary technological solutions like green hydrogen produced using renewable energy, clean ammonia and near-zero carbon aviation fuels and technologies are not yet ready. It is therefore essential to bring them to market by 2030 to achieve global Net Zero emissions by 2050.
So, this is what the Coalition aims to do. Other notable names that have committed to helping this work include Airbus, Apple, Amazon, Deloitte, FedEx, Ford, Nokia and Volvo. It appears a group with genuine ambition and influence.
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Any Google search for First Movers Coalition throws up some interesting results. Big firms like Johnson Controls are welcoming the news, and they are indicative of wider welcome analysis across some of the big sustainable business journals too.
“On behalf of the whole team at Johnson Controls, it is our great honour and pleasure to be counted among the founding partners of the First Movers Coalition.
“Let us salute Secretary John Kerry and the leadership of the World Economic Forum for launching this innovative partnership, and historic expansion today,” said Katie McGinty, vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer at Johnson Controls.
“This is exactly the kind of working together, business and government, together, that the world so needs and that we know is an unbeatable combination. The toughest problems, like decarbonising hard to decarbonise sectors, wither in the face of formidable partnerships, and we believe, transform them into opportunities.”
Others joined the positive momentum. “In making this new commitment we are sending a firm market demand signal for emerging technologies essential for a Net Zero transition,” said Jeremy Weir, Trafigura Executive Chairman and CEO.
Trafigura is a major participant in aluminium markets, managing supply chains between producers and customers. The company has supported the decarbonisation of the sector through new technologies and producers’ ongoing efforts to move to renewable energy, including providing a low carbon aluminium financing facility launched in 2020 to secure lower cost financing and pass on the savings to producers to incentivise lower carbon production.
“We believe that near-zero and low-carbon aluminium will be a premium product in the market once the technologies required start to be commercially deployed and we’re delighted to help to accelerate this process,” concluded Weir.
So, big names are onside and they represent big market capital. Global governments have pledged aligned policy and investment. The sectors targeted are wicked to solve when it comes to climate, but if there’s a way to do it out there, a fair punt suggests this may be it. Done right, it could succeed.