ICYMI: At COP28, Business Roundtable Leaders Discuss Climate, Sustainability and the Role of Global Clean Energy Supply Chains and Technology in Enabling the Energy Transition

December 8, 2023

On Monday, December 4, Business Roundtable and the European Round Table for Industry hosted an event, “The Future of Climate, Sustainability and Clean Energy: A Conversation with Global CEOs,” at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During a series of panel discussions, Business Roundtable CEOs and other member company leaders discussed the importance of reliable clean energy and technology supply chains, the role of technology in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, opportunities to enable the energy transition and reducing emissions through global cooperation. 

Panelists included George Oliver, Chair of the Business Roundtable Energy and Environment Committee and Chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls; Manny Maceda, Worldwide Managing Partner, Bain and Company; Christian Klein, Chief Executive Officer, SAP; Pedro J. Pizarro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Edison International; Rebecca Kujawa, President and CEO, NextEra Energy Resources; Andrés Gluski, President and Chief Executive Officer, The AES Corporation and Rich Lesser, Global Chair, Boston Consulting Group.

To watch the full event, click here

Ahead of COP28, Business Roundtable released a report, “Strengthening Global Clean Energy Supply Chains.” The report examines opportunities for the United States to accelerate the sourcing, manufacture, deployment and scaling up of clean and advanced energy technologies and their associated infrastructure to relieve pressure on global supply chains and advance U.S. leadership. For the full report, click here.

From Left to Right: Bain and Company Worldwide Managing Partner Manny Maceda moderating a conversation with Johnson Controls Chairman and CEO George Oliver and NextEra Energy Resources President and CEO Rebecca Kujawa

On Ensuring Reliable Clean Energy and Technology Supply Chains:

  • Oliver: “Last week, the Business Roundtable released a new report on how to make clean energy supply chains much more resilient. There [were] a number of policy recommendations on workforce development, permitting for critical minerals production and more.”
  • Maceda: “Building a green economy requires solving complex supply chains challenges associated with sourcing inputs on time, on budget, at the pace desired as well as navigating geopolitical and economic forces. [In the Roundtable’s recent report], [w]e examined four technologies that are critical to the energy supply chain, including clean hydrogen, solar, nuclear and grid infrastructure. We outlined themes including ensuring access to critical minerals and materials, facilitating competitive domestic manufacturing, supporting reliable imports for components, and deploying and connecting key technologies.” 
  • Kujawa: “The other part I think is important to bring to the discussion is it’s not just more [materials and components], we also need some diversification. If you look at a lot of the major components that support renewable production worldwide, many of those components are highly concentrated in specific countries or specific regions around the world. In order for capital-intensive companies like all of ours and many of yours in this room to feel comfortable in making long-term, substantial capital commitments [to] things that have 30-year-lived assets, you need to have confidence in being able to access and procure these components over a long period of time.”

On the Role of Technology in Reducing GHG Emissions:

  • Klein: Many companies still struggle to report carbon emissions in a standardized way. Technology can play a critical role in connecting supply chains and this is one of our key objectives. Add to that transparency and you can enable conscious decisions on, for example, resource usage, shipping, procurement, and sales. Let’s be honest: without this data, it's impossible to transition into a more sustainable enterprise.

The Economist’s Vijay Vaitheeswaran (L) in conversation with SAP Chief Executive Officer Christian Klein (R)

On Enabling the Energy Transition:

  • Pizarro: “It’s siting and permitting. If I had a magic wand, that’s the one thing I would change. Today, it takes 10 to 12 years to build a transmission line. Actually, it only takes about three years to build a transmission line; it takes about five years to get the permits in place. There’s additional time for planning, design and engineering. So, it’s just not tenable, right? And if you believe what I shared with you earlier about needing to quadruple the pace [at] which transmission gets added to handle the amount of electricity needed for the [energy] transition, we’re just not going to solve with the current siting and permitting process.”
  • Oliver: “On the permitting side, making sure we have the proper permitting and then that the investments are being made that ultimately are going to be in line with what the demand increase [we are] going to see – so not only upgrading the existing infrastructure but [enabling] a significant expansion to be able to support this electrification.”
  • Lesser: “There’s no way this happens without an effective collaboration between government and business, both to enable and incent and support [the energy transition], and also to remove the obstacles. The one I hear most is permitting, but I’m sure there are others.” 

Edison International President and Chief Executive Officer Pedro J. Pizarro 

On Reducing Emissions Through Global Cooperation:

  • Gluski: “So I think that’s what we have to do over the next five years is really get a lot of these technologies that we are working on to a point where they can be deployed in different areas. This panel is about international cooperation. I think the key will be to make sure emerging markets have access to that technology. … The solution is having killer applications that can be deployed on a smaller scale that can be easily adopted by these countries and then letting their markets work.” 

The AES Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Andrés Gluski