Message from our Patron & British High Commissioner, Kara Owen: Sustainability Report 2021


Source: BritCham Sustainability Report 2021

Foreword by H.E. Kara Owen CMG CVO, Patron, British Chamber of Commerce Singapore and British High Commissioner to Singapore: 

In Glasgow last November, 25,000 people from 197 countries, including 120 world leaders, came together at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) to sign the Glasgow Climate Pact. In doing so, they committed to accelerating the pace of climate action around the world with tangible action to keep alive the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Science has repeatedly warned us that not doing so would be devastating. This is why COP26 was so crucial. With our economies and global security at risk from the catastrophic effects of climate change, the world acknowledged that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action.

But as COP26 President Alok Sharma said at end of the Conference “1.5°C is alive, but its pulse is weak.” It will take a concerted and immediate global effort to deliver lasting changes.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published recently makes clear that the window to keep 1.5 degrees alive is closing alarmingly fast. While the report shows that emissions have slowed over the past decade, much more needs to be done to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

And the UK understands it must lead by example. The UK has already committed to reducing carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 and by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, before reaching net zero by 2050 as set out in the UK’s comprehensive Net-Zero Strategy.

Later this month, Prime Minister Johnson will set out a British Energy Security Strategy, detailing the UK’s plan for becoming more self-sufficient in energy. With green energy at its heart, it recognises that an accelerated and more ambitious shift to clean energy - including increased solar, wind deployment and greater energy efficiency - provides the most effective route to ensuring climate and energy security, and long-term prosperity for everyone.

Even as we work towards handing over the COP Presidency reigns to Egypt at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh later this year, I am proud to share that climate, energy and nature will remain a top international priority for the UK well beyond our COP26 Presidency.

We are in the process of charting a vision for our long-term role in the world, tackling climate change and biodiversity loss through the 2030 Strategic Framework for International Climate and Nature Action. This framework will go beyond our domestic ambition, and look at how the UK can optimise impact through partnerships and collaborations with like-minded nations and communities everywhere.

I have been heartened by insights generated by the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore that clearly show businesses across Southeast Asia – British and local – have not allowed the pandemic to slow their sustainability responsibilities. These companies realise that a green recovery can help bring about market differentiation and translate directly to cost savings.

Because going green is not just good for the environment, it’s good for business and a vital tool to build resilience against global turmoil – from famines and floods to pandemics and wars.

The ongoing crises in Europe have demonstrated the inextricable link between climate change, energy security and vulnerabilities to people and livelihoods caused by our dependence on fossil fuels.

We must see this, and every other challenge, as an opportunity to embrace the sustainability agenda rather than turn away from it. Now more than ever, we must urgently work together – as governments, businesses, and society – to accelerate the shift to clean power and zero carbon economies and off fossil fuels.

Congratulations to the British Chamber of Commerce on the publication of this second edition of its annual Sustainability Report. I wish all its members fair winds in carrying forward their commitments and raising their ambitions for a greener, better world.

My colleagues at the British High Commission and I remain ready to support you in this journey.