World Forum Reporter

6A / Nigel Topping: “net zero” in a fair world

High-level UK Climate Action Champion appointed by the British Prime Minister in January 2020, Nigel Topping visited the World Forum for a Responsible Economy to share the lessons of his title, and pass on his best practices.

Strengthening collaboration and stimulating action by businesses, investors, organizations, cities and regions to curb climate change – that’s the role of a high-level champion of climate action.  And Nigel Topping is, to say the least, the perfect embodiment of this role. On Tuesday, November 21, at the closing plenary of the first day of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy 2023, the expert delivered a speech that kept the audience enthralled from A to Z. 

Nigel Topping coordinates actions relating to his title with signatory governments and members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), alongside other champions of climate action. In particular, the expert works alongside Chile’s top climate action champion, Gonzalo Muñoz.

He was formerly CEO of We Mean Business, a business conglomerate working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Previously, he was also Executive Director of the Carbon Disclosure Project, following an 18-year career in the private sector.

What do you think are the three key actions we need to take to counter climate change in the immediate future?

Firstly, switch to renewable energy and electric vehicles as quickly as possible. Secondly, use your power in the workplace, whether you’re young people being interviewed or you’re already in positions of power, to make sure that the companies we’re working for have a pathway to net zero as quickly as possible. 

And thirdly, make sure that all elected officials are detail-questioned about their policies on climate change and hold them accountable. 

Looking ahead to 2050, what are your hopes for action against climate change?

Well, my hopes are that we’ll actually get to net zero in the 2040 because we’re starting to see evidence of the technological change happening so quickly. And my hopes are that we do that in a way which brings about much more equity. We have a lot of really gross information, injustice in the distribution of resources in the world within countries, but particularly between the wealthy countries and the countries of Africa, Latin America, South East Asia. So I hope we get to net zero, but we get there in a much fairer world.

If you had one message to share with the younger generations, what would it be? And to the generations before them?

Well, to the young generations, it’s « let’s work together ». It’s not an intergenerational battle, it’s about generational collaboration. And it’s very exciting to have the mixture of energy and experience, which that brings. And to the previous generation : it’s never too late to take responsibility.

Interviewed by Valentine Leroy