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COP26 and the importance of leadership on climate change

With COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference underway Country Manager Kieran Conroy writes about the importance of the event with global leaders gathered in Glasgow for the crucial summit addressing climate change.

COP26 represents perhaps one of the most important gatherings this decade as the world charts a course to tackling climate change. It is the place where ambition to limit warming to 1.5 degrees must be set, new commitments made, existing ones strengthened, and clear plans for action detailed. Political world leaders, businesses, academics, civil society and young people are gathered in the host city of Glasgow to discuss the work which needs to be done across all aspects of society.

The COP, or Conference of Parties, happens every year but this one is particularly significant as it must determine concrete plans to keep to the promise made at COP21 in Paris in 2015; to limit the warming of the planet by no more than 1.5 degrees. At the same time, this COP comes after being delayed for a year due to the pandemic, as we are already feeling and witnessing the impacts of a changing climate and as scientists tell us we have a decade to avoid irreversible tipping points that would be devastating for people and nature. Climate change poses one of the greatest risks to society and to our business. Every one of us has a role to play in reducing our impact, fostering innovation and collaboration and being part of the solution. COP26 will showcase and drive the momentum for increased ambition and action.

We are already aware of the ambitious targets set by Ireland's Climate Change Advisory Council, the independent body which advises the Government on the carbon budget per sectors. Big changes lie ahead with specific budget targets for each sector, such as transport, manufacturing, and agriculture. The challenge is undoubtedly huge, but I'm a firm believer that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and therefore requires us all to step up and take actions.

Our role in tackling climate change

At Nestlé, we are proud to have a climate ambition that is proportionate with the scale of the problem. We will halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 at the latest. We have a detailed plan to get there involving igniting a major shift towards regenerative agricultural practices to transform farming systems from nature-depleting and carbon releasing, to nature-enhancing and carbon-storing.

We will transform our product portfolio and packaging towards more plant-based products and fully reusable and recyclable packaging. We are also ensuring all our operations and logistics are using renewable energy.

Another key part of our climate roadmap is to use our voice and our reach to help galvanise action. We are proud that Nestlé is taking part in COP26 in a number of different ways with colleagues and sustainability and supply chain experts speaking at different sessions to be part of the debate and focused on building collaborative solutions and exchanging knowledge.

Our colleagues are also supporting some key events and showcasing the role of Nestlé’s brands in tackling climate change. Attendees are invited to grab a cup of Nespresso coffee at the Sustainable Innovation Forum - using coffee as a great conversation starter as well as the role it can play in supporting natural climate solutions. Nestlé are also supporting the Extreme Hangout in partnership with One Young World, giving youth a voice and a platform in the climate debate.

At Nestlé, we are proud of the work we are doing so far, are looking forward to what is ahead. This is a significant moment in time; one where we all have an opportunity, at an individual and collective level, to take steps to ensure we follow through with purposeful, meaningful actions to safeguard the health and sustainability of our planet.