I am the head of sustainability at Ford, and COP28 showed me 2 ways for companies to promote the green transition

COP28 in Dubai just ended and the attendees were asked difficult questions such as: How closely do countries keep the promises made in Paris at COP21 in 2015?

With 2023 shaking to be the hottest year on record, there is more urgency than ever around this goal. Can we deliver?

as Ford Motor Company’s global director of sustainability, homologation, and compliance, I watched the summit closely. Despite the challenges ahead, I strongly believe that the plans announced at COP28 suggest that we can still limit the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, to 1.5 degrees Celsius eventually of the century.

Here are my main takeaways from this year’s UN climate meeting and the steps I believe companies should take to achieve these sustainability goals.

Corporations must clean up their facilities and supply chains to advance the green transition

We are facing a hard reality: The current global climate path is moving towards warming 2.5 degrees Celsius to 2.9 degrees Celsius this century is inconsistent with the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. Reversing this trend will require innovation, hard work, investment, and global cooperation at a speed and scale never seen before.

One of the bright spots that came out of COP28 is a commitment of nearly 200 governments to triple global renewable-energy capacity by 2030 and slash methane emissions. This is an ambitious goal and one that Ford has committed to in our operations that we plan to use 100% carbon-free electricity in all our factories by 2035.

But companies must also look beyond their facilities and address the impact on their supply chains. the First Movers Coalition is a good example of the kind of collaboration that is needed. This global initiative, of which Ford is a part, uses the purchasing power and supply chains of large companies in energy-emitting industries to create early markets for new clean technologies. energy such as low-carbon steel and aluminum. Many initiatives of this type can be a great way to finance green innovation.

Governments, companies, and communities must work together

After the discussions at the summit, several things are clear: We need to build a strong grid, develop EV charging infrastructure, and break down the barriers of cost and convenience​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ in zero-emission vehicles. Policies and incentives should be implemented to promote advanced renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal and improve energy efficiency in buildings and industrial processes.

Cynthia Williams

Cynthia Williams is the global director of sustainability, homologation, and compliance at Ford Motor Co.

Cynthia Williams



We also need to continue exploring carbon sequestration technologies, such as direct air capture, considering the potential of natural solutions such as forestation and reforestation (ie creating new forests and restoring forests of existing ones), and implementation of waste reduction policies.

Finally, we must encourage product design that reduces waste and supports a circular economy, provide subsidies and incentives for green technology, and promote a just transition that ensures inclusion and fairness for all . The point is that we are all in it. A coordinated, multilayered international effort is essential.

The clock is ticking and the days of vague dreams are over. Leaders around the world must be held accountable for the commitments they make, both in the short and long term. In my view, this is not a burden but an opportunity. We are not only helping to create a sustainable future but also using the clean energy transition to sharpen our competitiveness, promote innovation, and build a better world today and for generations to come.

Cynthia Williams is a member of the One Planet advisory council. Learn more about his work HERE.

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