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Monday September 23 Opening Ceremony

Global Leaders Call for Far Greater Urgency and Action at Climate Week NYC

***NEW photos from the Opening Ceremony available on the Climate Week NYC Media Portal***



September 23, 2019 – New York, NY – National leaders, U.S. governors, and top business executives gathered at the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC this morning, the biggest climate week event in the world hosted by international non-profit The Climate Group, to drive even greater momentum on climate action.


Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica called on businesses for more ambitious action. He said:

“We need businesses 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.”


Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, President of the Government of Spain also highlighted the urgent need to accelerate climate action, and highlighted Spain’s ambitious commitment of phasing out fossil fuels by 2050, with a 20% reduction of emissions by 2030. He said:


“Our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in Spain by 2050 in an effective and cost-effective manner, focusing on the promotion of renewable energy. An effort and opportunity which will create around 364,000 jobs from 2021 to 2030.”


Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group stated the world is now entering the ‘Climate Decade’, stressing the urgent need to move from words to actions. Addressing business and government leaders in her opening remarks, she said:


 “We’re not just looking for commitments, we’re looking for delivery of those commitments. Let’s not delegate to future generations what needs to be done today. This is on us. In fact, let’s not wait another minute. The Climate Decade starts now.”


Two U.S. Governors from Under2 Coalition of states and regions for which The Climate Group is the Secretariat – Governor Newsom of California and Governor Inslee of Washington State also spoke at the Opening Ceremony, and highlighted that despite the U.S. federal government's inaction on climate change, U.S 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.


Governor Gavin Newsom of California spoke of California’s climate leadership. He said:


“I don’t know what the hell happened to our country that we have the President that we have in this [climate change] issue… California is running on historic budget surpluses, not despite our environmental strategies, but because of our environmental strategies.”


Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state and North American Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition emphasized the importance of U.S. states tackling climate change. He said:

“States are just as powerful as federal government to act against climate change. In fact, states are leading the charge.”


The event concluded with remarks from John Kerry, the former United States Secretary of State, who called for greater commitment from the U.S politicians. He said:


“Today we are standing on the precipice of the biggest battle that humanity ever faced, precisely for the reason that humanity has not done enough… the clock is ticking with greater stakes than ever before. Promises are being broken by our politicians…we need to create political accountability.”


View John Kerry’s full speech here.


Climate Week NYC is the time and place where the world gathers to showcase leading climate action, builds on ambition, and demonstrates how to do more. Events and announcements are taking place on each day of the week, with a major business announcement on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. Currently over 350 events are set to transform New York City into a thriving hub of climate action.


Other high-level speakers at the Opening Ceremony also included Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President of AT&T; Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE Group and Nancy Mahon, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability of Estée Lauder Companies; and Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, who announced last week that Unilever is using 100% renewable energy on five continents.  


Last night, 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 upon request.

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