Big business more than ever is under pressure to channel money into curbing climate change – and yet the chances of UN talks providing the necessary spur have slimmed as the Ukraine war, high energy prices and geopolitical tensions take precedence.
In interviews, more than a dozen US and European finance leaders were pessimistic the climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt starting November 6 can make clear progress.
What they want are signals on the pace of regulation that would allow company boards to plan their climate policy.
But as governments have lately been distracted by world events, they fear countries will fail to provide any major new commitments.
"Geopolitical relations going into COP27 are at one of the worst levels in recent history," said Luke Sussams, head of ESG and Sustainable Finance, EMEA at Jefferies.
"The age-old dilemma of climate finance, facilitated between the developed and the developing world, will of course be critical. We, I don't think, are too optimistic that many resolutions will be met in that regard."
Emissions must drop
A UN report published in October underlined the urgency of the climate problem and that emissions must drop 43 percent by the end of the decade to prevent the worst impacts of a hotter planet.
The best hope could be to prevent the progress so far being undone.
"Avoiding a rollback of existing pledges and commitments... could probably be considered a success," Benedict Buckley, research analyst at ClearBridge Investments, said.
Many companies made pledges to cut emissions last year, but like many governments, they have yet to work out how those will be implemented.
More than 550 financial firms are members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, aiming to cut their emissions and push companies in the real economy that rely on their financing to do the same, but the pace of action has been slow.
Not enough done
"The reality is that not enough has been done in the last 12 months – some would argue we have moved backwards," said Hortense Bioy, Global Director of Sustainability Research at Morningstar.
The biggest disruption since last year's Glasgow climate talks has been the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and gas exporter.
Europe in particular has been forced to rethink its previous reliance on Russian gas and to seek alternatives. In the short term that includes coal, undermining a deal the UN summit in Glasgow to phase out its use. However, as this year's high oil and gas prices have rewarded those producing fossil fuels.
By Ross Kerber and by Simon Jessop