Rachel Halpern

Reflecting on her journey to the UAE to attend the historic COP28 climate change summit this month, JANA’s head of sustainability, Rachel Halpern sums up the vibe on the ground was “everything, everywhere, all at once”.  

“Dubai is enormous and this was a COP at a scale not seen before,” Halpern tells Investment Magazine.  

“You had the sense that many private sector partnerships were being made and deals being done on the sidelines, which is exactly what we need to be seeing if we are at the beginning of a tipping point for action on climate.” 

But COP28 wasn’t all smooth sailing. The summit was off to an awkward start when its president Sultan Al Jaber was reported to have said there’s “no science” indicating that a fossil fuel phase-put will restrict global heating in a November event.  

Halpern was of the view that it could have contributed to the early win around the Loss and Damage fund in the summit, through which US$430 million ($641 million) is pledged to support poor states harmed by climate change.  

“It is unusual to have a significant agreement of the parties that early in the process – perhaps Al Jaber was motivated to secure a good news story.  

“However, more importantly the Loss and Damage announcements stood out because they were emblematic of the new phase that COPs have entered into: implementation of past agreements as opposed to new promises.” 

COP28 also achieved a historic agreement between close to 200 countries to “transition away” from fossil fuels. Halpern believes this change of language – while disappointing for some as the countries did not commit to a ‘phase out’ or ‘phase down’ – is a clear signal of direction for the private sector.  

“The thing to remember is the wording of the COP texts will never guarantee a 1.5 degree [global heating restriction] future, that is and always has been up to the private sector. 

“Even though the text calls for an orderly transition it cannot be so – it will be creative chaos – but that is what happens when the whole global economy is trying to do the same thing at the same time.” 

A lucrative opportunity lies in emerging markets, she says, as government, corporates and investors were seen at COP28 creatively addressing the problem of de-risking private capital to fund transition.  

“Trillions of dollars annually need to be invested by the private sector in emerging markets or the world will simply not achieve net zero.  

“It’s an exciting time as an enormous and attractive pool of opportunities will open up for investors if the right structure can be found.” 

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