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2023 was the first time in which global warming has exceeded 1.5C across an entire year. This was the dire warning of the EU’s climate service last week.

This stark news is a direct result of our limited progress in the climate struggle. In 2015 world leaders from every country in the world promised to avoid crossing this threshold, recognising that beyond this the effects of climate change become even more pronounced. At every level these impacts are also profoundly inequitable, mainly affecting people and countries that are least responsible for these emissions.

The first year-long breach of 1.5C doesn’t mean this promise is broken. It is a stark reminder that we need to find new ways to unlock action, and mobilise new actors to join the climate community.

It is against this urgency that I both look back on 2023, and forward to the year ahead.

It is hard to stay hopeful. But at the same time I look at all Climate Catalyst achieved last year with pride, and at important positive trends in our collective global response. I am encouraged by the exponential shifts now taking place in many countries on issues like renewable energy and vehicle electrification, by the growing competition between countries for leadership in the low carbon transition, and the desire of partners to work together to create new tipping points, .

We must bring urgency and hope into many more areas. I am proud of the role that Climate Catalyst and our partners are playing in achieving this.

Our goal at Climate Catalyst is to create tipping points in sectors where progress is most needed, by mobilising the power and ingenuity of both the private sector and civil society actors. 

In 2023 we put this into practice through our work protecting Europe’s peatlands and decarbonising steel industries across India, Japan and South Korea; as well as working with partners to design a new strategy towards a more sustainable aviation industry in Europe. 

In Europe we partnered with the Corporate Leaders Group Europe to mobilise the business community to rally behind and help secure a new Nature Restoration Law. We also worked to increase investor and business understanding of the opportunities and incentives to engage in peatlands restoration and protection. 

In Asia meanwhile, we successfully strengthened investor engagement while driving civil society knowledge and coordination towards creating a greener steel sector in Japan and the Republic of Korea. And at the end of 2023, we successfully handed this work over to our partners. 

Our steel work now focuses wholly in India, where in 2023 we mobilised stakeholders across civil society, business, policy and academia, through the India Green Steel Network (IGSN). We’ve been greatly encouraged by the announcement in late 2022 that the Indian Ministry of Steel will develop a green steel policy. We’re focusing our efforts in 2024 on building the network, and working with partners in particular on green public procurement in the Indian railway sector and increasing scrap steel recycling.

But we’re not stopping there. Building on the success of our first two programmes, we are shifting attention to other critical climate challenges where action to date has been limited, and the potential for collaboration to unlock change is high. 

This starts in 2024 with our new programme of work in Europe tackling the climate impacts of aviation. Our attention is also turning to Indonesia where our team is engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to identify where our model could be applied to best effect. 

The single most important ingredient of building any successful organisation is people, and through them the relationships they build. We are stronger together. I am delighted by the progress our collaborations have made in the last 12 months on steel, peatlands and now aviation. It is this that gives me hope. 

Climate Catalyst continues to be guided by the wisdom, support and advice of others across the climate community, mostly notably our funders, advisory board and our Strategic council. Many thanks to them all. I must give a special mention to our advisory board chair Celine Charveriat, and to Shloka Nath and Mukund Rajan who joined our board this year. 

So I enter 2024 hopeful that our model will continue to grow, evolve and drive impact. And that together, we can meet the scale of the challenge ahead. 

About the Author

Stephen Hale

Chief Executive Officer.
Stephen has played leadership roles as a campaigner and advocate on climate change, international development, and other issues across several organisations. He manages our overall organisational strategy and impact.

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