Maybe it’s because just over a year ago COP26 was on our doorstep, the world’s biggest climate conference in our backyard, that it feels disappointing that COP27 in Sharm El Sheik seemed to pass without the public and media focus that such a threat deserves.

The coverage and analysis was there of course, but I’d argue that you had to be keen to find it, whereas Glasgow’s conference coverage seemed omnipresent, urgent and essential.

That could of course be from living in the local (and by that I mean UK) bubble that hosting brings, and certainly Glasgow was always planned to be one of the “big” iterations, the next of those after the historic Paris agreement. In addition, if distractions sometimes feel like excuses, the events of 2022 might be exempted for being on the valid list, given the impact to business, people and their families.

Both are solid explanations for the lower-than-expected impact, but honestly that jars against the evidence of climate change in the last year. Record-high summer temperatures, scorched grass and wildfires followed by record-high winter temperatures across Europe and ski resorts without the white slippy stuff that they could usually take for granted.

There have been years without snow before, and hot summers too, but you would have to have your head a long way down in the sand to not watch our weather and wonder where we are headed and how quickly.

Its public importance is a key topic for our engineering sector, given their responsibilities for reducing the impact of the existing systems they build and maintain to support everything we currently do, whilst at the same time designing, developing and delivering fundamentally different systems to eliminate impact as far as reasonably practicable. They also have customers to support in their own commitments to reduction and elimination, and, in a labour market where skills are at a premium, their actions have to align with intentions if they want to attract and retain the resource essential to their operation.

For some – but not all – 2022 was a difficult year to match ambition with progress in that respect, perhaps a parallel with the slightly flat COP27 that I perceived. Any business will understandably react to the crisis that risks their very existence, so it’s understandable that energy costs threatening to rise by many multiples will be the recipient of most of the available oxygen.

The companies which have managed to advance their net zero journey despite the year’s challenges have generally followed a path of collaboration with their customers, suppliers and their colleagues, with a few brave enough to present their successes and challenges to their peers, so that others might make more rapid progress through their learnings.

Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) was an early volunteer to share, and is the manufacturer of Diamond Power boiler cleaning equipment in Dumbarton that has improved boiler efficiencies and lowered emissions for decades. B&W is now charting its path and actions to provide decarbonisation and other clean power production technologies to support the world’s energy transition.

To Aberdeen next and Texo, a multi-disciplinary industrial services company delivering a wide range of projects for renewables, energy, marine sectors and others. With a stated intention to reach net zero by 2032, its goal is among the most ambitious in our sector.

And finally, staying in the north-east, RWG (Repair and Overhauls) Ltd provides maintenance solutions for industrial aero-derivative gas generators and marine gas turbines, using highly skilled remanufacturing techniques that have made it a circular economy champion before the phrase reached common usage. Extending that approach to planning its roadmap to decarbonise operations, it has already achieved significant reductions in carbon emissions and continues to work for more.

Credit where credit is due to these organisations for advancing these ambitions in tricky times, and especially for freely sharing their journey for others’ benefit as part of our programme to support our sector and plan our transition to net zero.

The urgency – and space – to concentrate on planning for decarbonisation we expect will return broader and deeper in 2023, likely with more pressure from supply chains as expectation evolves into compliance for customers setting their own roadmap. For us, facilitating an engineering community led support programme is we believe the way to ensure that effort and resource are pointed at tackling the challenge, keeping that affordable and therefore open to all.

Paul Sheerin is chief executive of Scottish Engineering