COP26: What is the First Movers Coalition?

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Half the low-carbon technologies the world needs to reach net zero by 2050 are still in development.
  • To accelerate their path to market, the World Economic Forum and John Kerry have launched the First Movers Coalition, with more than 30 members making purchasing commitments to drive demand.
  • It will operate across eight sectors, seven of which are responsible for more than a third of global carbon emissions.

Decarbonization technologies needed to reach net zero by 2050 could be widely available in the next decade, according to a new coalition of companies aiming to drive demand.

The First Movers Coalition, announced at COP26, is a partnership between the World Economic Forum and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

It’s a platform for companies to commit to buying zero-emission goods and services by 2030, to create demand for low-carbon technologies, make them cost-competitive and build the clean supply chains of the future.

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The aim is for these commitments to be “significant enough” that industrial decarbonization technologies are commercially widespread within the next nine years.

Why does the First Movers Coalition need to create demand for clean tech?

Half the low-carbon technologies the world needs to reach net zero by 2050 – and limit warming to 1.5 degrees – are still in the early development or prototype stages, according to the International Energy Agency.

 Decarbonization technologies needed to reach net zero by 2050 could be widely available in the next decade, according to a new coalition of companies aiming to drive demand.  The First Movers Coalition, announced at COP26, is a partnership between the World Economic Forum and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.  It’s a platform for companies to commit to buying zero-emission goods and services by 2030, to create demand for low-carbon technologies, make them cost-competitive and build the clean supply chains of the future.  The aim is for these commitments to be “significant enough” that industrial decarbonization technologies are commercially widespread within the next nine years.  Why does the First Movers Coalition need to create demand for clean tech?  Half the low-carbon technologies the world needs to reach net zero by 2050 - and limit warming to 1.5 degrees - are still in the early development or prototype stages, according to the International Energy Agency.
Image: IEA

In total, the new platform will operate across eight sectors, seven of which are responsible for more than a third of global carbon emissions, but do not have cost-competitive energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

These are: steel, cement, aluminium, chemicals, shipping, aviation and trucking.

It will cost less than 1% of global GDP for these seven industries to go carbon-free by 2050, according to the Energy Transitions Commission. While transitioning to a greener economy could create 24 million jobs, according to the International Labour Organization.

The eighth sector is direct air capture, which could help to reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but needs greater investment in technological innovation to make it commercially viable.

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In order for these technologies to make a difference by 2050, they must be ready to go by 2030.

“Technology has given us the tools to reduce our emissions and build a stronger and more inclusive economy of the future,” says Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, calling on business leaders to join the coalition.

“For innovators and investors to play their part in tackling the climate crisis, they need clear market demand. The First Movers Coalition will leverage the collective purchasing power of leading companies and drive the need for these technologies.”

Which companies are in the First Movers Coalition and what have they committed to?

There are more than 30 founding members of the First Movers Coalition. They are all companies aiming to accelerate innovation through investment in solutions that are essential to achieving the Paris climate goals.

They have all made at least one purchasing commitment to the hard-to-abate phase 1 launch sectors, with the remaining sectors launching early next year:

Aviation

Members commit to use sustainable aviation fuels and propulsion technologies for air travel by 2030. Airlines and airfare and air freight purchasers will replace at least 5% of their conventional jet fuel demand with sustainable aviation fuels and/or propulsion technologies that reduce life-cycle emissions reductions by 85% or more, compared with conventional jet fuel and without any offsets.

Shipping

Members commit to use zero-emission fuels in new and retrofitted zero emission vehicles by 2030. Carriers also set a target that at least 5% of their deep-sea shipping will be powered by zero-emission fuels by 2030, enabled by ships capable of using zero-emission fuels. Cargo owners set a target that at least 10% of the volume of their goods shipped internationally will be on ships using zero-emission fuels by 2030, on the way to 100% by 2040.

Trucking

Members commit to purchase or contract zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030. These can include battery or fuel-cell electric vehicles and also incorporate renewable sources of electricity and hydrogen for charging. Trucking owners and operators also set a target that at least 30% of their heavy-duty and 100% of their medium-duty truck purchases will be zero-emission trucks by 2030. Retailers & manufacturers set a target that they will require all of their trucking service providers to meet the trucking owners and operators’ commitment by 2030.

Steel

Members commit to purchasing volumes of near-zero emissions steel by 2030. The deployment of breakthrough iron and steelmaking technology is needed to deliver a net-zero steel sector with minimal residual emissions. These technologies include hydrogen direct reduction, carbon capture use and storage, and electrolysis-based production processes. Steel purchasers set a target that at least 10% of their annual steel procurement volumes by 2030 meet or exceed the First Movers Coalition definition for ‘breakthrough steel’.

These commitments were made in consultation with technical experts from public, private and civil sectors and in partnership with these existing initiatives: Getting to Zero Coalition (shipping); Climate Group (steel); Clean Skies for Tomorrow (aviation); Road Freight Zero (trucking).

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