COP27 showcased the power of engineering, science, diversity and teamwork

COP27 showcased the power of engineering, science, diversity
and teamwork
COP27 showcased the power of engineering, science, diversity and teamwork

Industry Voice: National Grid's chief engineer David Wright sets out his five top key takeaways from the latest round of UN climate talks

COP27 is being hailed as a success and failure in different aspects of the final deal. A historic agreement was reached to create a loss and damage fund for developing countries, but at the same time parties failed to agree actions that will drastically reduce emissions. As we hope to see further ambition and action from governments globally to increase their commitments and policies to align with a 1.5C pathway, the new fund did highlight renewed international collaboration and prove that the COP process can work to find consensus.

On the ground in Sharm El-Sheikh, there was a buzz of energy and ambition with lots of practical conversations about how we all go further and faster to keep 1.5C alive.

As the world reflects on the two weeks of negotiations, discussions and debates, here are my key takeaways from the summit.

International collaboration 

No one leaving this year's COP can deny that collaboration is key to finding solutions to tackle the climate crisis. From scaling-up solutions to decarbonise cities which are some of the highest emitting hotspots, to identifying the right policies that will drive change, progress will be slow if we don't work together to address the issues that are causing us to lose pace.

At National Grid for example, we're working with global institutions to drive progress towards a clean energy future on a global scale. We are sharing expertise with countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia to develop network decarbonisation plans. We can do this through collaboration and partnerships, such as with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working groups, that support city planners in their quest to find green solutions.


There was a significant increase in the diversity of participation this year, with representation from more countries and regions. The climate crisis is something that impacts the whole planet, and it was encouraging to see more leaders and different voices engaging in the conversations. This in turn led to more varied discussions around, for example, climate adaption, practical measures and driving real change, and the decarbonisation challenges facing countries in different parts of the world.

Creating a greener future must be done in a way that leaves no one behind. Having a greater representation of the world at COPs is an important step to achieving this.

Business engagement

Businesses have a vital role to play in tackling emissions. From day one it was immediately apparent that they had showed up in Egypt with the same determination and appetite to make progress as they did in Glasgow. Businesses have a responsibility to accelerate efforts to cut their carbon footprint, whether that's in their day to day operations, within their supply chain, or in their wider industry or sector.

Knowledge sharing 

As many countries look at how they move away from fossil fuels, there were good discussions around the UK's progress to decarbonise the electricity sector over the last decade. Over the last five years decarbonisation has increased at pace, with the greenest year on record for Britain's electricity system in 2020.

At the same time, National Grid's fossil free vision in the US was another key point for discussion as leaders explored how they can decarbonise their own energy systems. Learning from different nations and sharing insights around market frameworks, creating flexibility in energy networks, and delivering on fossil free commitments will be important for achieving net zero on a global scale.

Science and engineering 

There was a lot of data shared during the summit, with climate science showing different warming levels across cities and oceans, and some sobering findings that highlight the potential for losing sight of 1.5C. At the same time, there were conversations around the solutions, innovation and engineering required to adapt to our changing environment. It's clear that science and engineering must come together to understand, for example, how to adapt our critical infrastructure.

We must keep focused on the pathway to 1.5C

At National Grid, we're focused on bringing renewables onto the energy systems in the UK and US as quickly as possible. We look forward to continuing to collaborate across sectors, borders and areas of expertise as the world now looks to pick up the pace on decarbonisation. We all need to work hard at mitigating and reducing emissions to keep to a global temperature limit of 1.5C, or else risk a point of no return in the warming of our planet.

David Wright is group chief engineer at National Grid

* This article was originally published here