COP27: Mitigation is key to keeping 1.5 alive

As the UK’s presidency of the Conference of the Parties (COP) comes to an end, the ATI’s Head of Technology for Sustainability & Strategy, Adam Morton, reflects on the legacy of COP27.

With notable successes at COP26 in Glasgow last November, this year’s Conference of the Parties in Sharm el-Sheikh began with optimism – and indeed, the commitment to a loss and damage fund to help developing countries recover from the impacts of climate change was a significant outcome and rightly made global headlines.

Despite this, COP27 fell short of expectations for further commitments to reduce carbon emissions and ensure global emissions peak no later than 2025.

Some have argued this outcome marks a pivot away from mitigation towards management, particularly with the growing emphasis on ‘adaptation’ from the UK presidency’s priorities of mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration. Mitigation is of course key to keeping alive the commitment to limit global temperature increases to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. A follow-up Mitigation Work Programme is a welcome next step towards this.

Priorities of the UK presidency

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions
  • Adaptation – helping those already impacted by climate change
  • Finance – enabling countries to deliver on their climate goals
  • Collaboration – working together to deliver even greater action

The drive to mitigate carbon emissions and reach Net Zero 2050 is intrinsic to the ATI’s technology strategy Destination Zero, which sets out the sustainability priorities future projects must deliver on to be funded through the ATI Programme. This includes electrification, low- and zero-carbon technologies, lightweight materials and sustainable manufacturing processes, some of which were showcased at last week’s ATI Conference.

The ATI’s FlyZero project, which investigated zero-carbon emission flight and concluded in March 2022, also highlighted the importance of energy infrastructure when developing and commercialising hydrogen-powered aircraft. Working with industry and academia, the ATI has been further growing its wider sustainability expertise and environmental capabilities, including the creation of a Sustainability Advisory Group. Growing recognition of the role of non-CO2 emissions in climate change has also come to the fore in our sector and, increasingly, emissions mitigation will need to look beyond carbon. The ATI will be expanding its sustainability focus into these and other important areas in 2023.

There is continued and widespread recognition that developed countries still need to mobilise significant investment by 2030 to deliver on mitigation through reducing carbon emissions. A joint report published by the ATI and PwC last week, Funding Growth in Aerospace, highlights the opportunities for accessing public and private investment to accelerate the transition to zero-carbon and ultra-efficient technologies.

Click here to discover more and download the report.