Throwback: COP27 chat with Alexander Enström and Martin Wiese

With the UN Global Climate Summit COP28 fast approaching, let’s go back in time and get a sneak peek behind the scenes at last year’s event, which took place in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

In this interview, Hempel’s Executive Vice President and Head of Marine, Alexander Enström, and the Vice President of Sustainability, Martin Wiese, candidly shared their key takeaways that will help Hempel further accelerate the journey towards a more sustainable future… but also, what it was like participating in such an enormous and equally important event.

“Alexander, Martin, thank you for taking this time to give some insight into your time at COP27.

This is the first time Hempel ever participated at COP. Can you tell us a bit about your very first impressions when you arrived at COP27?

Alexander: My first impression was that it was absolutely buzzing. It is a place that is full of both diverse topics and people with all sorts of different backgrounds. To be honest, it was also a bit difficult to navigate at times! But you could definitely feel change in the air.

Martin: Agreed, Alex. It was overwhelming how many inputs I experienced on my arrival. It covered everything from seeing political negotiations, discussions by NGO’s, businesses, industry associations - but also seeing the strong call from, for example, indigenous people and African countries for whom the climate crisis is no longer something in the future, but is something they face every day in the form of natural disasters, droughts, and famines. The overarching feeling, however, was that everyone was there for the same purpose: to collaborate to move the needle on the global climate crisis.

Wow, you can almost feel the intensity of being there. Did you have specific hopes for what you wanted to achieve and what you wanted to learn over the days you attended COP27, given how intense it was?

Martin: Yes, absolutely. On behalf of Hempel, I had a clear goal of learning from the best of our peers on the decarbonisation journey, so we can accelerate our own journey to meet our Science Based Targets, but also for us to be able to go out there and explain how we as a business can take part in improving energy efficiency globally with our coatings solutions.

Alexander: I mirror that Martin. We have a big role to play, and it’s important that we go out with a strong message about that role. An important goal for me also was just to learn about and understand the format of such an event, so we also understand the opportunities of using that kind of platform in the future to explain the energy saving benefits of a solution like Hempaguard.

And with those hopes and goals in mind, can you name at least one thing you felt you achieved while there?

Alexander: I experienced that doors opened for Hempel to participate in different initiatives, initiatives that will enable us to drive a steep change in different industries. And those doors opened because people at COP recognized that we do have a role to play.

Martin: Exactly. And we gained even greater insight into how regulations within i.e the shipping industry work, so we definitely gained those learnings we had our hopes set on.

That sounds exciting! Was there a specific talk you attended or meeting you had that was particularly inspiring?

Alexander: I think both Martin and I were really inspired by a panel of energy ministers speaking about energy transition. The Energy Minister of Belgium made it clear that we have to first look at energy efficiency, or reduce energy demand, and then we can talk about transitioning to renewable energy. And Hempel has so much to offer when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of several industries.

Martin: Yes, it was clear in that panel that renewable energy isn’t enough on its own. We have to improve the energy efficiency of assets and technologies to really break the curve.

And now that you are back, how do you think this participation at COP27 can support Hempel in day-to-day business? Could you name some practical takeaways you are ready to dive deeper into?

Martin: Absolutely. We are already one of the frontrunners within our industry when it comes to decarbonising our own value chain. But we can learn from others doing best practice, and I have already agreed to establish a Scope 3 network with some of the companies we met at COP27.

We have also placed Hempel on the map of companies having solutions available now that can truly decarbonise customers’ value chains – I look forward to having discussions with the various segments on how we can do even better than today when we pitch into our customers’ future sustainability agendas.

Alexander: I look forward to the outcomes of all that good work Martin. I would just add that we will work much harder on participating in wide collaboration with new stakeholders, i.e. IMO (International Maritime Organization) and enabling private and public collaboration. And the exciting work on this has already begun.