Climate Week NYC kicks off with calls for action and collaboration

Speakers stress the need for the private sector to play a role in moving to Net Zero, but governments and even consumers must do their parts, too.

About 40 days before the global climate confab known as COP 26, Climate Week NYC is laying out the breadth of actions needed for the world to meet climate goals by 2030, most notably the work needed from governments, large companies, entrepreneurial businesses, investors, consumers and more.

Sponsored by Climate Global, a non-profit aimed at driving climate action, Climate Week NYC began Sept. 20 and will feature hundreds of speakers through Sept. 26 in New York and located virtually. They’ll present various stakeholders’ positions on what they are doing to attain Net Zero and the solutions they believe could make it possible to curb emissions enough to avoid catastrophic impacts from warming.

“This is a real team sport. Companies are going to have to learn to work with NGOs, technology providers, with communities, with investors,” said Dickon Pinner, senior partner and global leader of McKinsey Sustainability. “That level of planning and effort is not yet sorted out. … What’s needed is more wood behind the arrow.”

[More: Late-night TV is joining Climate Week NYC]

Net Zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out. Scientists suggest that global warming must be capped at 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid disastrous effects. Action to curb emissions that contribute to global warming during the current decade is considered essential to all hopes of meeting that cap.

Many speakers at the opening ceremony of the meeting addressed the need to have a “just transition” to a decarbonized economy, where developed countries help less developed nations with funds and other essentials like technology to sustainably grow and develop.

[More: 5 major takeaways from the blockbuster IPCC report]

The solutions need to build up the communities that will be most impacted – and these coincide with the most vulnerable communities, said Gloria Walton, CEO, Solutions Project.  

“Stopping carbon isn’t enough. Just doing carbon neutral may mean disproportionate impact in vulnerable communities,” Walton said. “We have to transform our society to move towards regeneration, community, reparations, meaning repairing the harm we’ve done.”  

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called Hurricane Ida “a warning shot,” and declared climate change to be the “existential fight of our time.”

Earlier this month a storm whipped up from the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New York and dropped three inches of rain an hour on Central Park, flooding parts of the city, including in the subway system.

Speaking with InvestmentNews before the event, Helen Clarkson, CEO, Climate Group, said the theme of this 13th annual event is “getting things done.”

Clarkson said late-nigh TV hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah and others are coordinate to promote climate action one day this week, too, as their participation in Climate Week NYC.