It is evident that no single business or organization can tackle climate change on its own. Collaboration and co-creation are key to making a significant impact. This year’s Climate Week theme, “We Can. We Will.” spoke directly to that—leaving no room for misunderstanding that our window to act is closing slowly.
It’s clear that climate action has taken its rightful place at the top of the business agenda. We’re seeing more companies than ever innovating to find, develop and implement solutions because things like clean energy or energy efficiency are simply good business. At this year’s Climate Week we heard leaders from near and far debating how to implement solutions at scale with a level of sophistication and depth akin to the way that they would talk about financial and operational elements of the business. Here are our top takeaways from the week:
Social pressure has driven policy leaders to react.
The week started with a bang, as one of the largest climate demonstrations to date, The March to End Fossil Fuels, took over the streets of New York City. Tangentially, but not directly correlated, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he intends to sign a bill which will require companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue to disclose scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. This is ahead of the highly anticipated SEC climate mandate, so while it’s unclear what this could mean once the mandate is released, companies should be cognizant of and preparing for reporting and regulation of their scope emissions.
Smart, integrated buildings that reduce cost and carbon are critical to accelerating the green transition.
One of the largest undertones of this year’s Climate Week was focused on decarbonizing our most polluting sectors as quickly as possible—agriculture, fossil fuels, buildings, and more. “Built Environment” was one of the ten sub-themes of Climate Week, and for good reason: the real estate industry is responsible for 40% total global greenhouse emissions. This fact dominated the New York Times’ Climate Week Dinner with acknowledgement that there’s urgency to decarbonize the industry and Mayors know that regulating the real estate industry is their most powerful tool in reaching a net zero city.
The water crisis is a top concern for US-based companies addressing their environmental footprint.
From climate change to chemical spills, water security in America is wavering. A panel hosted by CNBC’s Catherine Clifford brought together subject matter experts across government, non-profits, and the private sector to have an honest and constructive discussion about the nature of the US water crisis and what can be done about it. While water security and stewardship are a growing reporting area for our clients due to its importance to raters and rankers, it is quickly becoming a topic viewed through the lens of a humanitarian crisis in the U.S.
Storytellers reconsider how to frame climate and adjacent narratives.
We couldn’t pass up the many panels and presentations on climate and impact communications. While impact communications isn’t new, until recently there hasn’t been much data on what works. Our team was happy to hear an overwhelming consensus that focusing on optimism and the positive outcomes of efforts (versus “doomish”) is working.
Leaders acknowledge the need for academic and private sector collaboration.
In tandem with Climate Week, the United Nations General Assembly returned to NYC this week. There was a unanimous agreement among many of that nation’s leaders that to accelerate mitigation and adaption to save humans, our global, and avoid catastrophic effects to the global economy, we need more collaboration between researchers, academics, the private sector and policy. Leaders made this clear that climate change is now an all-hands-on-deck issue.
Many prior Climate Weeks had the same sense of urgency, but there was certainly more friction between the various sectors. This was the first climate week that felt different—with most parties finally coming together to acknowledge that if We Can, then We Will have to do it together.
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