By Kristin Hanczor, Corporate Engagement Manager, North America
The 11th Climate Week NYC has come to a successful close. An annual convening of events hosted by The Climate Group, an international nonprofit with a mission to accelerate climate action, this was the largest Climate Week in the world; Greta Thunberg led the inspiring youth climate strikes, the United Nations Secretary-General hosted a Climate Action Summit as part of the U.N. General Assembly, and organizations hosted more than 350 official Climate Week NYC events all over New York City.
Many companies, organizations and individuals took part in Climate Week NYC for the first time. The Climate Group received a record number of event submissions, hit 807 million social media impressions (up from 434 million in 2018) and #ClimateWeekNYC trended on Twitter in New York City for the first time.
The sports industry jumped in the game this year with events focused specifically on the intersection of sustainability and sports.
Allen Hershkowitz, co-founder of the Green Sports Alliance and now chairman and founding director of Sport and Sustainability International, moderated "Women, Climate and Sports," a panel discussion that featured an impressive lineup of female sustainability leaders from the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and the United States Tennis Association.
When asked why he chose this specific topic, Hershkowitz said, "The U.N. Climate Change Framework promotes a ‘gender-responsive climate policy’ urging representation of women in all decision-making related to climate policies. The U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals also focus on promoting gender equality. With this in mind, it is satisfying, fascinating and inspiring to note the influential role played by women promoting sustainability in sports throughout the world. Collectively, women sustainability leaders have changed sports, and in so doing they have broadened the reach and relevance of the environmental movement."
The event highlighted the evolution of environmental improvements each person has made within her organization, including implementing zero waste programs, purchasing carbon offsets with increased social impact, powering games with 100 percent renewable electricity and expanding community engagement initiatives. The panelists also touched on the rate of female representation in sustainability roles within sports, which has the potential to create more opportunities for women to hold leadership roles in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Lew Blaustein, founder of the GreenSportsBlog, moderated "Playing on Thin Ice: Sports for Climate Action" to highlight the harmful impacts of climate change on winter sports. The "All-Star panel" (his words) included Winston Binch, a board member at Protect Our Winters; Omar Mitchell, vice president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives at the National Hockey League; and Sergey Rybakov, head of the steering committee for The Last Game, a hockey game to be played at the North Pole in April to draw worldwide attention to the climate crisis.
One key takeaway from the event was how drastically climate change is affecting the winter sports industry in particular. Ski slopes are struggling to stay open for enough days to be profitable, in addition to their having to spend money and emissions making so much fake snow. Areas that used to have months of pond hockey are barely freezing over. These obvious and immediate impacts are putting more pressure on winter sports organizations to move much faster on climate action than other sports.
"I felt it was important to bring the potential of sports to make a difference in the climate fight to the Climate Week NYC audience," Blaustein said. "The green sports movement is rarely seen at climate conferences. That has been an opportunity lost, for green sports and the climate change fight. Until now."
Taking a more active approach, the New York Road Runners coordinated "Climate Week NYC Plogging," a group run that combined jogging with picking up trash along the way. More than 25 people participated, each collecting one to two bags of trash in Midtown Manhattan and along the West Side Highway.
Alexandra Criscuolo, the New York Road Runners’ first environmental sustainability manager, said, "I was most surprised by the reactions as we ran and picked up garbage. I was expecting questions or questioning looks, but we were instead greeted with ‘thank you,’ ‘great job’ and even cheers. People understood what we were doing and were extremely supportive." In this newly created role, Criscuolo will be implementing sustainability initiatives at the organization’s events across all five boroughs, including the TCS New York City Marathon and weekly road races. (Editor's note: Tata Consulting Services, aka TCS, sponsors the marathon.)
While the green sports movement is not well known among the broader sustainability community, it is growing quickly and building momentum at a crucial time. A 2018 report by the International Panel on Climate Change found that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut in half by 2030 and aggressive actions must be taken to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 in order for there to be a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of a warming planet. The next decade is critical, and new voices are critical.
At COP24 in December, U.N. Climate Change launched the Sports for Climate Action Framework, which now has signatories including the New York Yankees, the International Federation of Association Football and the International Olympic Committee. The framework was created to drive emission reductions of sports operations in line with the Paris Agreement and capitalize on the massive reach of sports to engage millions of global fans.
Just a few days before Climate Week NYC 2019, Nike launched Move to Zero, a brand-new platform to guide the company towards zero carbon and zero waste with the goal to "protect the future of sport."
Sports may seem an unlikely ally in the race to save the planet, but the industry’s visibility and influence make it an incredibly powerful asset to inspire immediate and ambitious climate action across industries and around the world.
First published on GreenBiz.com
By Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive at Bank of America
There is a significant gap between the capital that must be applied to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the amount that is currently being invested.
Estimates say approximately $6 trillion per year is needed to address the SDGs; the current annual funding gap is as much as half that. Narrowing this financial gap and accelerating development and adoption of solutions across the globe will take collaboration and action across public, private, community and philanthropic sectors. That is where sustainable finance comes in to help.
FINANCING CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
As a global financial institution, Bank of America has a role and responsibility to play in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. As part of our Environmental Business Initiative (EBI), Bank of America is advancing progress on SDGs related to climate, energy and the environment. By 2030 we will have deployed more than $445 billion in capital to low-carbon, sustainable business activities. We’re working with our clients, collaborating with financial peers and partnering with environmentally focused non-profits to narrow the gap between the amount of capital that must be applied to these global challenges and what is being deployed today. These efforts are driving economic value and producing innovative solutions. As these projects gain scale, investment risk is lower and the cost of financing early innovations and newer sustainable business models is reduced. In turn, this allows for greater capital flows to support more environmentally focused business opportunities.
While these financing efforts increase the number of viable projects, there is much more that needs to be done so sustainable business activities can have a greater impact. That is why we set a third commitment as part of our EBI to begin in 2020 and deploy an additional $300 billion in capital by 2030. The first two goals under our EBI (2007-$20 billion; Current-$125 billion) have had a significant economic impact that has created innovative clean energy solutions and supported jobs in the renewable energy sector.
A recent analysis by EY demonstrates how our current $125 billion commitment is accelerating the transition to a sustainable economy while supporting new jobs and economic growth. The report evaluated $41.6 billion in direct Bank of America financing of projects in the U.S. in renewable energy production, construction of energy-efficient buildings, energy conservation measures, water infrastructure upgrades, and improvements to urban transit infrastructure. This financing facilitated the avoidance of an estimated 23 million metric tons of greenhouse gases and 518 billion gallons of water. Additionally, the analysis estimates that in 2018 alone, our environmental finance efforts supported 159,998 U.S. jobs, with all project types supporting a higher than average compensation, and helped to contribute $51.4 billion to U.S. GDP (2013-2018).
ACCELERATING THE IMPACT THROUGH INNOVATION
Moving the dial on global issues like climate change requires going beyond business-as-usual financing to find innovative approaches that can help attract a larger share of capital from a broader set of investors. Bank of America is looking for ways to deploy its capital in partnership with philanthropic and public capital to help mobilize private capital at scale for otherwise difficult to finance solutions. For example, in November 2018 we launched the Blended Finance Catalyst Pool, which provides an initial allotment of $60 million in capital – and the opportunity to stimulate much larger multiples of private capital – to help finance the SDGs. The pool specifically focuses on affordable and clean energy (SDG7), sustainable cities and communities (SDG11), clean water and sanitation (SDG6), and climate action (SDG13).
At Bank of America, we have helped lead the development of the green bond market, helping companies and municipalities to tap into the debt market to finance their own sustainability initiatives. We have issued four corporate green bonds ourselves, totalling $4.35 billion, and just this year we issued our first social bond for $500 million, becoming the first U.S. bank to do so. The bond’s proceeds will refinance our investments in affordable housing and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). By helping clients access capital through these and other products like green loans, green asset-backed securities, tax equity investments and other industry leading financing instruments, we are also helping to address issues such as climate change, availability of affordable housing and access to clean water – building healthier, more sustainable communities.
COLLABORATION IS THE KEY
Achieving the SDGs by 2030 will not be easy, and it is incumbent upon government, business and civil society to come together and mobilize our collective resources to move society forward. As climate change places social and economic challenges on communities around the world, Bank of America is deploying our global resources to be part of the solution, and our sustainable finance strategy is spurring new business growth in environmentally focused companies and projects. We will continue to pursue efforts to bring together leaders from across the entire financial system to catalyze a greater flow of global investment into low-carbon, sustainable business opportunities addressing climate change. By empowering a sustainable transformation now, we can build a better planet for future generations.
As a member of both The Climate Group’s RE100 and EV100 initiatives, it is an honor to be part of Climate Week NYC again this year. As The Hub opening day presenting partner, we were pleased to join other leaders across sectors to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, more sustainable economy.
*Photos and videos from Climate Week NYC 2019 are available on the media portal*
September 23-29, 2019 – New York, NY – Businesses, world leaders, communities, and youth activists gathered at the world's biggest climate week event, Climate Week NYC 2019, hosted by international non-profit The Climate Group, to discuss and demand greater climate action.
Climate Week NYC 2019 was supported by Salesforce, as its Headline Partner. Chief Impact Officer and EVP of Corporate Relations at Salesforce, Suzanne DiBianca, said, “When it comes to protecting our planet and combating climate change, companies have a key role to play. Climate Week NYC is the largest climate gathering in the world and has been focused on driving climate action forward since 2009. It’s an honor to be the Headline Partner this year, and we look forward to coming together with other businesses, NGOs and government officials to catalyze the action our planet needs now.”
At the Opening Ceremony on Monday, September 23, 2019, global leaders called for greater urgency and action:
Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, President of the Government of Spain highlighted the urgent need to accelerate climate action, and announced that Spain has made an ambitious commitment of phasing out fossil fuels by 2050, with a 20% reduction of emissions by 2030.
Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark discussed their goals to reduce emissions by 70% by 2030.
McKinsey & Company was the Opening Ceremony Knowledge Partner; Dickon Pinner, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company discussed how they view and address climate change as a "massive capital formation and allocation question."
President Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica said: “We need business to be a part of this with the same confidence and clarity the younger generation are providing the world now. I don’t see a greater challenge or risk as the climate crisis – for our generation, for my generation, and for my son’s generation.”
Governor Newsom of California and Governor Inslee of Washington State, both members of the Under2 Coalition for which The Climate Group is Secretariat, highlighted that despite the U.S. federal government's inaction on climate change, states are leading the way to drive policies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with science, such as those that promote renewable electricity, zero emissions vehicles, smart buildings, and agriculture, while improving their economies and creating jobs for the future.
Other high-level speakers at the Opening Ceremony also included Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President of AT&T; Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE Group; Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability of Estée Lauder Companies; Steve Kukoda, ICA Vice President; and Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, who announced last week that Unilever is using 100% renewable energy on five continents.
During The Hub, Tuesday and Wednesday, September 24-25, 2019, businesses, states, cities, and other ambitious climate actors came together to showcase how they are shaping the future economy through climate forward initiatives and innovative solutions.
In the Climate Decade event, Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group said: “We need to halve emissions by 2030. The 2020s need to be the Climate Decade.”
Youth Climate Activist and Founder of Earth Uprising, Alexandria Villaseñor talked about the global youth climate strikes and said: “When you set your mind to something, you can make it happen, and that’s what the youth do when we strike."
Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ingka Group said they are placing themselves in the “actions and solutions” of climate change whether it’s political or not. He said: “We need to put a spotlight on the solutions and we need to fuel all our communities with hope. We need to make investments that go for decades.”
Gonzalo Muñoz, Chile’s new COP25 High-Level Climate Action Champion said: "the COP25 Presidency priority is to fill the map of the world with climate actions and we're all invited to fill it."
Charlene Lake, SVP, Corporate Social Responsibility & Chief Sustainability Officer at AT&T talked about the benefits that technology has brought them and their customers as a credible tool for climate action and the importance of transparency in climate action.
With New York City as Climate Week NYC’s playground, Mark Chambers, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said: “One of the biggest challenges is to match the ambition with the reality of the emissions it represents.”
MS Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief CSR, Sustainability and Communications Officer at Renew Power, talked about the work Renew Power does to support non-government organizations to take climate action.
Mathias Lelievre, CEO at Engie Impact kicked off the Step Up: The Business Case for Greater Government Ambition event. He said: “Sustainability must not continue to be at the periphery. It must now live in the heart of each organization, not just as an environmental concern, but as a key driver of economic growth.”
Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive at Bank of America had a discussion with Amy Davidsen, Executive Director of North America at The Climate Group to talk about the power of businesses, cities, and states to combat climate change.
Lucas di Grassi, Formula E Champion and Driver for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler said: “I’m extremely passionate about promoting the trailblazing technologies of electric mobility through Formula E and raising awareness of electric vehicles for the benefit of our health and climate.”
Throughout the week, there were over 350 events that made this year the biggest Climate Week yet with a range of diverse events from film screenings and panel discussions, to nature walks and theatre shows. Events were categorized into eleven different thematic areas to align with the themes of the UN Secretary General's Climate Action summit.
To kick off Climate Week NYC, The Climate Group participated in the Global Climate Strike with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who thanked everyone that was active in Climate Week [NYC], and said: “For all the [young] people making a difference in the world, we need you more and more. . . we’ve got to save this planet and I believe in the Green New Deal and I believe in all of you.”
In celebration of Climate Week NYC, restaurants all over New York City showcased climate friendly dishes for Eat for Climate Week. Restaurants included Le Botaniste, Charley Street, Le Pain Quotidien, and more.
National Geographic showcased a virtual ocean exhibit in the heart of the city in Times Square – Encounter: Climate Change allowed individuals to travel through the Pacific to see, hear, and feel the greatest marine wonders.
GLACIER: A Climate Change Ballet imagined dancers as melting polar ice caps and brought the arctic environment alive.
During the week, Chuck Nice and other comedians were able to find some climate related humor in the New York Comedy Club for the 136 Funny show.
For those who wanted to be better travelers, NYC & Company, a partner of Climate Week NYC, hosted their first event, Building Sustainable Tourism Together, in collaboration with the Javits Center.
Partnering with Global Citizen and with the release of The Climate Group’s new youth research, various climate events such as Our Future Festival and Young People at the Forefront of the Climate Movement provided young people the opportunity to join the conversation and demand greater action.
Marketplace of the Future wrapped up Climate Week NYC with a party that featured sustainable brands and a live band.
On the evening of Sunday, September 22, 2019, iconic New York buildings including One World Trade, One Five One, One Bryant Park, Javits Center, 30 Rock, The Weylin, Madison Square Garden, and Empire Outlets were lit up green for the launch of Climate Week NYC. Photos are available via the media portal.
Cimate Week NYC 2019 also witnessed 20+ new signatures to international non-profit The Climate Group’s corporate leadership initiatives RE100, EV100 and EP100. See full release.