Since the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the leading subject matter of “green” conferences alike have been focused on, “what now?” Climate Week NYC 2018 stayed true to this theme, gathering together government officials, financial and climate experts, and professionals of all fields to discuss not only “what now,” but more importantly, “how.”
The key takeaway from the events we had the privilege to attend was this: markets are the solution. Time and time again politicians have lacked the capability to react to these pressing issues in a timely or effective matter. Therefore, market mechanisms will be imperative tools if we hope to drive true behavioral change. While Simon Zadek, Co-Director of the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, stressed to us that it would be a mistake to dismiss the crucial role administrative authority plays in setting “the rules to the game,” there is strong consensus that the private sector is still the key.
We are convinced that honest business collaboration and conscious decision-making will be what guides us towards achieving a sub-1.5, or sub-2.0 Celsius future.
Our team of Research Analysts, Alyssa Bueno and Shannon Mora, attended a total of 10 events with over 20 panels for this year’s Climate Week. Here is a recap of their highlights:
What did you think were the highlights of this year’s Climate Week NYC?
Alyssa: Climate week brought together professionals from various industries to discuss improving business sustainability. It was inspiring to be part of so many people with different areas of expertise all coming together to weigh in on pressing environmental topics.
Shannon: The attendance for this year’s Climate Change was outstanding. Many events had to arrange larger venues in order to host the overwhelming audiences eager to learn, engage, and network with like minded individuals. It was a true testament of the changing tides in social and business opinion around climate change.
What event impressed you the most during Climate Week NYC and Why?
Alyssa: I was most impressed by the Business Call to Action Forum because it truly showcased such a diversity of entrepreneurs who started their mission-based companies from the bottom up. Among the list of panelists were several impact investors, who talked about the direct positive change they influenced on such a large scale by funding and providing expertise for nascent enterprises. One of the investors from Acumen, an impact investing firm, assists companies throughout the developing world who are working toward creating positive change, while keeping in mind environmental ethics. Very basic human needs such as cooking and light are unmet in remote, rural areas yet are easily remedied through the use of biofuels and solar energy.
Shannon: The Moody’s Briefing was an eye-opening conversation on environmental investment. Speaker Justine Leigh-Bell, the Director of Market Development at Climate Bonds Initiative, took an honest approach when responding to the criticism against green bonds and the rate at which they are gaining popularity. Justine accurately pointed out that, “we are late to the game” with utilizing green bonds and therefore, are enduring a learning curve. Not enough research in the past has been placed into identifying an accurate ranking system for the projects that qualify as green bonds. Additionally, the industry continues to struggle with awarding appropriate importance to the metrics of the environmental impact of said projects versus the narrative it tells, and vice versa. Ultimately, despite the setbacks green bonds have faced, they are beginning to prove to be a lucrative avenue for investors to explore and deserve a greater amount of our attention now and in the near future.
How is CCC relevant to Climate Week NYC?
Alyssa: CCC—being a key player in offsetting businesses’ unavoidable emissions—provides a good opportunity to reduce their footprints with minimal effort. Businesses can aspire to be completely carbon free, contribute to humanitarian causes, and satisfy consumer demands for environmentally-conscious products all in one package when they work with us. Economists favor carbon pricing as the best approach to reducing emissions because vague policies and market incentives are not enough to meet SDGs, much less a sub-2-degree warming scenario. CCC helps companies actually move the dial.
Shannon: The central theme of the events we attended surrounded this idea that voluntary participation in the climate movement will be a key driving force. As a leader in voluntary offset markets, CCC will prove to be a true catalyst in equipping businesses with the expertise and tools they require to fulfill their role as activists. One example may be the increased used of carbon credits as a means to meet the requirements of emission trading systems.
Are there any topics that you would want added to Climate Week next year?
Alyssa: I would like to see a greater focus on reducing waste from the retail sector. It was inspiring to see businesses working toward increasing their renewable energy use and contributing to charitable causes; however there was not as much emphasis on environmental packaging. Our oceans and landfills are filled with plastics and other materials that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Even recyclables are more often than not tossed in the garbage instead of properly recycled.
Shannon: It would be wonderful for CCC to be able to host an event to exhibit the strong role carbon credits serve in this call to action for the private sector. Carbon Credits are applicable to any industry and produce lasting effects not only on the global environment, but also for the communities in which the projects operate. We are expanding our repertoire of clients every day, and it would be, I feel, a very informative event to be able to showcase what a broad array of products and services we are capable of offsetting and turning carbon neutral.
As Ndidi Nwuneli, an impact investment entrepreneur, reminded us at the Business Call to Action Event, there is an ancient African proverb that reads: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We can’t wait for next year’s Climate Week and are looking forward to hearing about the great strides businesses have made to mitigate climate change together.