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Tuesday September 15 General

Climate Week NYC 2020 Marks A Critical Period for Climate Action

By Nat Keohane, Senior VP Climate, Environmental Defense Fund

At a time when multiple immediate crises – Covid-19, economic recession, and systemic racism and injustice – threaten to crowd the climate crisis off the world’s agenda, Climate Week NYC 2020 needs to be a wake-up call.

I live and work in Manhattan, so when Climate Week NYC comes around every September, it feels like the climate world is coming to me.  This year, of course, the climate world is coming together online – but that doesn’t diminish the urgency.

Climate Week NYC 2020 marks the beginning of a critical 14-month period for climate action. What happens between now and COP 26 will help shape the future of multilateralism – and help determine the fate of the planet.

To put the world onto a path to low-carbon prosperity, we need to do three things above all else between now and November 2021:


  1. We need to rebuild better from the COVID-19 crisis. Climate and clean energy should be at the center of economic stimulus and recovery efforts, so that as we emerge from the crisis we accelerate the shift to a low-carbon future. 

    This is not just good climate policy – it’s good economic policy

    Investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and vehicle electrification create good jobs today and buy down the cost of clean energy in future years. These investments must be done in a way that promotes equity and justice, by investing in the low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that often face the most direct and dire consequences of climate change. This will redress the toxic burden of pollution that they have been made to disproportionately suffer, and ensure a fair transition for workers in fossil fuel communities.
  2. We need the private sector to step up. Over 1,000 companies have taken on net zero targets. Corporations including Apple, Ford, and McDonald’s have also been among this summer’s climate leaders.

    EDF is leading an effort to develop a set of recommendations to maximize the benefits of voluntary market investments towards climate goals, while driving funds to emissions reduction projects. We are hosting a Climate Week NYC event exploring how the finance community can drive the transition to a 100% clean economy. I invite you to join us.
  3. The world’s largest emitters need to lead.

    Europe is leading the way, as it long has, with the EU Green Deal and with the announcement that they will significantly increase their climate ambition. 

    China is on track to jumpstart the first trade of the world’s largest carbon market this year and is expected to announce a new NDC in the coming months, according to the government’s plan. 

    However, the most critical need for leadership is in the U.S. The U.S. not only should rejoin the Paris Agreement, but also rejoin it in a way that restores American credibility, projects American leadership and boosts global ambition.

    That will require an aggressive 2030 target backed up by a comprehensive national climate policy. That policy agenda must include a massive investment in clean energy. Next-generation Clean Air Act standards that go well beyond the regulations of the Obama administration, and an enforceable declining limit on carbon pollution that puts the entire economy on a path to net zero emissions and aligns market incentives with the low-carbon transition.

With the right leadership and commitments, the next 14 months can put us back on a critical path to bold climate solutions. Climate Week NYC 2020 can be a catalyst.

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