Climate Week NYC, hosted by the Climate Group in collaboration with the United Nations and New York City, took place last week, Sept. 21-27, 2020. This year’s annual summit featured over 450 panels, workshops, art shows, and film screenings focused around 10 themes: clean energy transition; transport and infrastructure; industry and built environment; finance, investment, and jobs; food and land use; nature and science; US and international policy; youth, public mobilization and justice; sustainable travel and tourism; and climate impacts and adaptation. The event brought together more than 20 countries, including Colombia, India, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
To kick off Climate Week, artist-activists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd revealed the Climate Clock. Displayed on the Metronome in Union Square, the Climate Clock shows how long until Earth burns through its carbon budget based on current rates of emissions. The clock expresses the urgency with which we must take action in order to keep the Earth from reaching the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming threshold. At a level greater than 1.5 °C, the world would experience even more frequent and intense weather extremes, including droughts, rainfall, heatwaves, floods, and more. This would significantly impact our health as well as our ecosystems, water supply, and food production systems. In fact, we are already seeing the effects of climate change today with the wildfires blazing across the West Coast and the especially active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Throughout the week, many new promises were made by governments across the globe. China will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, and the European Union pledged to reach the same goal by 2050. Corporations also committed to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases. Walmart announced it will target net-zero emissions by 2040, with Morgan Stanley aiming for the same mark by 2050, and General Mills outlined a plan to reduce food waste by 50% over the next 10 years.
In speaking to the responsibility of corporations to be a part of the solution, Maria Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business coalition, said:
“Business only has a short window of time left to prepare for the zero-carbon future, so now is the time to step up. For business, climate action builds resilience, increases innovation, cuts costs and attracts investment. We are seeing companies from even the most challenging sectors taking climate action and reaping the rewards. We now need to see this new level of leadership from business across the board – increasing its level of ambition, action and advocacy to drive us forward at the pace needed.”
The We Mean Business coalition, a group of nonprofit organizations fighting climate change, issued a new guide last week outlining what corporate climate leadership looks like in the 2020s. The three main tenets, which Mendiluce eluded to in the above quote, are that business leaders must respond to the climate crisis ambitiously, deliver on their goals through action, and promote widespread change through advocacy.
To learn more about global warming and the impacts of reaching a level of warming greater than 1.5 °C, check out this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report. Stay tuned to the Hunt Institute Digest for next week’s post about the Dallas Climate Action Plan and resources you can use to combat the effects of climate change in your own community.
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Rachel LevittRachel Levitt
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