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12 November 2022

CIC Member Sara Boettiger encourages us to look beyond the headlines at COP27 to find the real climate action

Dr. Claire Huck

By Dr. Claire Huck

CIC Member Sara Boettiger encourages us to look beyond the headlines at COP27 to find the real climate action

Cervest’s Climate Intelligence Council (CIC) is made up of world leading experts across a myriad of sectors. This year, we welcomed Dr. Sara Boettiger as an inaugural member.

Sara brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience as a resource economist and most recently, Global Head of Public Affairs, Science & Sustainability in Crop Science at Bayer. CIC Program Manager, Dr. Claire Huck, caught up with Sara to hear her thoughts on climate risk, food security and COP27.

You're one of the inaugural members of the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council - what led you to join the initiative?

At the very heart of this global climate transition to climate resilience, is the issue that Cervest is focused on – how do you turn information and data into good decision-making. There is a huge need for better tools that translate our rapidly changing world in ways that help us to understand how best to take action. Companies, governments, financial institutions, international development organizations – even each of us in our individual households – we’re all struggling to try to figure out what we need to change and how to do it. I’m really excited to be contributing to this challenge as part of Cervest’s Council.

"At the very heart of this global climate transition to climate resilience, is the issue that Cervest is focused on – how do you turn information and data into good decision-making."

Can you share with us what you are working on in the climate space right now?

I keep finding crazy-smart people to work with who are equally focused on making big things happen - across policies, markets and technology. I continue to advise in both the public and private sector – as companies and governments navigate the transitions at hand.

I am also still obsessed with tackling the inequities of climate change – whether it’s building more resilient global food security, how agriculture is changing or the role of GHG emissions in the economic transitions of low-income countries. And, I have some interesting new ventures focused on the fragility of ecosystems – and how we could radically change the trends in, for instance, biodiversity loss, or ocean plastic pollution.

This year the US alone has already experienced 15 separate $1bn dollar extreme weather events. From your perspective, what actions should organizations be taking today to mitigate for climate risk?

I think one set of companies has gotten pretty sophisticated about developing their own playbook for addressing climate risk – priorities, timelines, how it makes sense to finance the transitions, the org structures and talent needed. There’s another, much bigger, set that sees the writing on the wall of this fast-moving transition into a carbon-neutral era – across supply chains, energy markets, cost of capital, infrastructure, customers, new policy frameworks – and they are asking a lot of questions. There are definitely some common questions (How/when do we move our fleet to electric? How best do we navigate the carbon offset market?) but really, every organization has its own calculus and the priorities for action and financing of this transition are different.

So I guess the one action would be to try to move away from addressing your organization’s climate transition through single-issues and events, and instead build the level of buy-in internally you need (and find the right tools and people externally) to drive a sharp, integrated climate risk plan.

"... move away from addressing your organization’s climate transition through single-issues and events, and instead build the level of buy-in internally you need (and find the right tools and people externally) to drive a sharp, integrated climate risk plan."

This year, COP27 will focus on action over words. What are your hopes for the conference outcomes / the coming year?

Every year, I admit, I am frustrated by the COP headlines. The same issues playing out among global leaders with the constraints of their politics that we’ve seen for too long. But this year, I decided to shift myself away from the headlines – to actively focus on appreciating the incredible action that’s happening off the world stage.

Companies are changing, policies are changing, consumers are changing. The global changes in energy security with the invasion of Ukraine set us on a different path. There is a force coming in a new generation of young people who deeply understand the climate emergency. There’s incredible innovation to address climate change among leaders of cities, and states. All of it is driving us faster along the path of the climate transition. I believe we have a wild ride ahead of us, because we’ve done too little, too late – but I am excited by the action and the momentum that’s building – if you look beyond the COP headlines.

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