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The Climate Diplomacy Landscape in 2024: New Opportunities for Business

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As the first quarter of 2024 concludes with global policymakers and financiers convening in Washington for the annual World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, the climate scoreboard isn't exactly flashing victory on keeping 1.5 °C within reach. 

Earth's thermostat hit record highs last year, and the prognosis in 2024 isn't looking any cooler. International bodies warn that worsening climate change will continue to see unprecedented heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and tropical cyclones impact societies and individuals on every continent. On April 10, the UN’s lead climate official, Simon Stiell, warned we have “two years to save the world.” 

Meanwhile, the path ahead is fraught with competing challenges. Global conflicts, geopolitical tensions, and economic uncertainties cloud the landscape. This year, over half the world's population will participate in democratic elections, potentially reshaping policies in key nations and geographies, including India, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, parts of Africa, and Taiwan. Even within a crowded field of priorities shaping the domestic and multilateral environment, climate solutions can ill afford taking a backseat. 

But even against this backdrop, there is positive momentum to build upon. For starters, the international community made tangible progress last year at COP28 in Dubai: including setting a course to transition away from fossil fuels; operationalizing the loss and damage fund for communities on the frontlines; facilitating record local climate action; and committing to decarbonize heavy emitting industries. 

Today’s climate policy arena is more dynamic and fast-paced than ever. To help businesses engage effectively, FGS Global’s energy and sustainability experts compiled three key insights for navigating the remaining 2024 climate calendar.  

1. The COP29 buzzword is “finance”...  but all eyes are on COP30 in Brazil.

The annual UN Climate Conference (COP) is generally the featured milestone on everyone’s climate calendar. COP29, however, is shaping up to be much more technical and far less publicized than COP28 in Dubai. President designate Mukhtar Babayev has previewed a more finance focused summit, which he is developing in close coordination with a troika that includes COP28 host the UAE and COP30 host Brazil. 

Baku will test government and private sector commitments to agree on a new global climate finance goal to help developing nations with the energy transition. What happens at major convenings throughout the year (G20, New York Climate Week, etc.) will play a role in determining the finance outcomes at COP29 in Baku, and COP30 in Belem. 

In the background, the shadow of Brazil looms large. For the next three years, Mr. Lula da Silva’s government will play a unique role in shaping global climate action, through its 2024 G20, 2025 BRICS, and COP30 presidencies. Major companies and coalitions are already striking up partnerships with the Brazilian government and making plans for COP30 in Belém. 

2. Nature and biodiversity are in the spotlight.

We are seeing global momentum on nature, biodiversity, and finance as governments back their commitment to protect 30% of the world's ecosystems and restore 30% of degraded land by 2030, and rapidly advance efforts to integrate nature protection as a central element in combating the climate crisis, recognizing the substantial domestic economic opportunities this presents. 

More countries are also due to publish their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans in time for COP16 in Colombia and are backing these with new rules that will require businesses to stop deforestation in their supply chains or demonstrate a biodiversity net gain for certain land uses.  

Finance is also in focus, with governments looking to reinvigorate the voluntary carbon markets to channel investment into nature based solutions and the prospect of new biodiversity markets emerging. 

At the same time, the private sector's role is more crucial than ever. Banks and asset managers are developing new forms of finance to get a wider set of investors deploying capital to nature. Many more companies are launching their nature strategies and committing to more comprehensive nature-related disclosures. Leading businesses that have been working on these issues for years now have an opportunity to win recognition for their early action and gain a seat at the table as policymakers shape the rules of a nature positive economy.

3. The definition of climate leadership has evolved.

As policymaker and stakeholder expectations continue to rise for companies and organizations to align their businesses with a net-zero future, it is important to engage at major milestones to demonstrate commitment to decarbonization and help shape the emerging policies. However, what constitutes success as a company in the eyes of its stakeholders has evolved. 

  • For one, ambition and targeting setting alone is no longer sufficient: leadership is now defined by real-world implementation and results. 

  • Businesses cannot act in isolation: convening power is critical as sectoral or supply chain interventions are needed for progress. 

  • Nor can major events be one-offs: achieving a leadership position requires consistent campaigning and thematic interventions throughout the year. 

  • Finally, intel is fundamental: informing where and how businesses should show up at major events. 

How FGS Global fits in: We're your eyes on the ground, your voice in the debate, and your advisors in the boardroom, from the G20 to COP30 and beyond. Our energy, climate, and sustainability experts have been shaping the climate conversation for decades, helping clients take a comprehensive and integrated approach to maximizing impact across the global calendar.

Reach out to GlobalClimate@fgsglobal.com to learn how we can help you.