CLIMATE WEEK NYC 2017 LAUNCHED IN NEW YORK CITY WITH GLOBAL LEADERS HIGHLIGHTING UNSTOPPABLE FORCE OF ACTION
NEW YORK: The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC 2017 at a high-profile Opening Ceremony on Monday, bringing together global climate leaders to demonstrate how a combination of state, city and business commitment will continue to deliver the Paris Agreement.
Hosted at The Morgan Library & Museum, participants included world renowned pioneers such as Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, Governor, California and Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations.
Opening the summit, Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, said: “At Climate Week NYC, we are highlighting the unstoppable force of action from business and government in tackling climate change, and how this can drive innovation, jobs and prosperity for all – our central theme for the week. Through our work with businesses, states and regions, we will continue to drive the implementation of these goals, so that we can keep global warming well below 2°C.”
Taking place between September 18-24 in New York City, Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits in the international calendar and has been driving climate action since it was first launched by The Climate Group in 2009.
The summit takes place annually alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action.
Multinational businesses including Siemens and PepsiCo, as well as RE100 members Bank of America, Mars, Walmart and Carlsberg Group were key participants at the Opening Ceremony, highlighting the central role of business in addressing the climate challenge.
After President Trump’s decision in June to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, the role of sub-national governments in driving innovative climate policy has also been at the forefront of the agenda. Governor Brown was joined at the Opening Ceremony by Philippe Couillard, Premier, Quebec, Jay Inslee, Governor, Washington and David Ige, Governor, Hawaii, and together they emphasized the commitment of US states to implementing the Paris accord.
Stephen Badger, Chairman of the Board, Mars and Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, joined the four sub-national leaders on the summit’s opening panel which addressed the importance of multiple climate commitments across states, cities and businesses.
COMMITMENT FROM STATES, CITIES AND BUSINESSES
The summit also saw the launch of a landmark new report - ‘States, cities and businesses leading the way: a first look at decentralized climate commitments in the US’ - authored by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group and powered by CDP data. The report shows that the US can already meet half of its Paris Agreement climate commitments by 2025, if the 342 commitments included in the analysis are implemented. This report provides the first steps in helping to quantify the contribution of states, cities and business to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions.
Clarkson said: “US states, cities and businesses are not waiting for the US federal government to make its position clear on Paris. This new report clearly highlights their unwavering commitment to climate leadership. Importantly, it shows us that climate action is not solely dependent on the actions of national government. US states, cities and businesses have the power to mitigate the consequences of a full Paris pull out.”
Governor Brown added: “Cities, states and businesses are stepping up and taking action to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.”
NEW SIGNATORIES TO THE UNDER2 COALITION
Additionally at Climate Week NYC, as Secretariat of the Under2 Coalition, The Climate Group announced seven new members. The Under2 Coalition is a global network of ambitious subnational governments publicly committed to long-term deep decarbonization and supporting the Paris Climate Agreement goal of keeping the rise in global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius.
New signatories include the cities of Atlanta, Boulder, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Montgomery County, Marylandin the US; and Qualimane in Mozambique, while the Marshall Islands become the seventeenth nation to endorse the Coalition.
With the addition of these new members, the Under2 Coalition now includes 187 jurisdictions on six continents that collectively represent more than 1.2 billion people and US$28.8 trillion GDP - equivalent to over 16% of the global population and 39% of the global economy. The coalition, formed in 2015 by the states of California and Baden-Württemberg, Germany to mobilize and galvanize bold climate action in the lead up to COP 21, pledges to limit greenhouse gas emissions to two tons per capita or 80 to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050.
On endorsing the Under2 MOU, John Silk, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of the Marshall Islands said: “If we don’t keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees, my country will not survive, and no country will be safe. Every country, every company, and every constituency must take ambitious climate action, and it is this groundswell of climate action that the Under2 Coalition is building’’.
LAUNCH OF CLIMATE OPTIMIST CAMPAIGN
The Opening Ceremony also saw the launch of a new survey which finds that a majority of people globally are optimistic about our ability to address climate change. The survey, conducted by global market research firm Ipsos on behalf of The Climate Group and change agency Futerra, polled online adults aged 16-64 in 26 countries and is at the heart of a new campaign, #ClimateOptimist, to change the dominant narrative on climate change.
The #ClimateOptimist campaign seeks to raise awareness of the solutions to climate change to shift the dominant narrative around the topic and combat fatalism about our future. The approach is grounded in decades of scientific evidence which show that optimism compels action. Specifically, #ClimateOptimist asks people to:
- Opt in as a Climate Optimist, and share your belief that we can solve this.
- Take climate action in your own life, by doing things that will make you healthier and happier.
- And shine a light on solutions. Find out about the amazing progress already happening.
Find out more at www.ClimateOptimist.org
A fascinating discussion between Anne Finucane, Vice Chair, Bank of America and Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) was followed by a keynote from Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, who emphasized the need for a collective follow through on the Paris climate deal.
Joan MacNaughton, Chair of Board, The Climate Group, then moderated a panel which focused on the necessity of developing strong coalitions and partnerships across sectors to drive action. Participants on the summit’s second panel included Nicolas Hulot, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France, The Honourable Catherine McKenna MP, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada and Lawrence H. Summers, former US Treasury Secretary.
The following session featured major businesses reflecting the scale of action, innovation and investment now taking place towards the achievement of a zero-carbon economy. Participants included Jenny Bofinger-Schuster, Sustainability Director, Siemens AG, Flemming Besenbacher, Chair of Board, Carlsberg Group, Kathleen McLaughlin, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart & President of Walmart Foundation, Fleming Voetmann, Vice President of Public Affairs, International Copper Association, and Dr Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, Global Research and Development, PepsiCo.
The final panel of the day focused on recognizing the impact on communities from rapid technological and sector change. Participants included Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, UK Government, Sharan Burrow, The B Team Leader as well as leaders from Enel Group, West Virginia Regional Technology Park and Mystic Formulations.
Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, North America, The Climate Group then moderated a high-level conversation between Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group and B Team Leader, and Andy Karsner, Managing Partner, Emerson Collective. The discussion addressed the vital role of innovation in the journey towards a global net-zero emissions economy.
Branson, who’s Necker Island home was severely damaged earlier this month as a result of Hurricane Irma, said: "They're getting worse and there are more of them… On Necker Island, by going clean we were saving a few hundred thousand dollars on fuel bills. The only thing left standing on Necker were our solar panels"
"We can get on top of the climate problem in the same way that we got on top of the ozone problem"