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Takeaways from Climate Week NYC 2019

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Takeaways from Climate Week NYC 2019

If you have been following Power Panel on social media, then you are already aware that we made our way to Manhattan to get in on the positive action that is Climate Week.  In its tenth year, Climate Week attracted people from across the globe, in countless meetings and activities, for one important reason: climate change.  Run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York, Climate Week continues to grow as the spotlight event for the world to showcase valuable climate action events and conduct important discussions that address what more we can do to meet the urgent needs generated by climate change. The anchor events of Climate Week have been growing, and with more than 150 events this year has been the largest one yet. Climate Week NYC is run by The Climate Group, the international non-profit focused on accelerating climate action.

You didn’t have to be part of The Global Climate Strike (September 20, 2019) to know that the leaders of climate change action are the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow.  From groundbreakers like Greta Thurnberg who traveled “across the pond” (aka the Atlantic Ocean) on a zero-emissions sailboat to make an impact and statement to world leaders to Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Youth Envoy, speaking on the Power of Youth Mobilization at the Social Good Summit, youth were abound, as were their ambitions and determination for protecting the environment.

So, what were the major takeaways?  Well, the list is extensive and simply too long for one blog post, but here is an attempt to breakdown some highlights whilst providing links to resources for learning (and doing) more:

UN Climate Action Summit

Why the Climate Action Summit? A better question would be why not; after all, there seems to be too many reasons.  As published on the Climate Action Summit website, global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years have been the hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Add the rise in sea levels, loss of coral reefs, air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security, and it is more than apparent that the impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives and national economies.

In response, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called upon all leaders to travel to New York on September 23, 2019 with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

Some of the reported results (source: AgFunder) thus far include:

1.       On September 24th, World Bank, Tesco, Sodexo, pledged efforts to combat food loss and waste at the Champions 12.3 event.  Leaders from World Bank and major retailers announced landmark developments toward cutting food loss and waste in half by 2030, keeping in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3.  Additionally, World Bank committed over $1 billion in sustainable development bonds to combat food loss and waste.

2.       Danone announced “One Planet Business for Biodiversity” - On Monday, Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, announced “One Planet Business for Biodiversity” (OP2B) at UN Climate Action with nineteen companies and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). OP2B is a new initiative to protect and restore biodiversity within supply chains and product portfolios.  The coalition has pledged to develop innovative solutions aimed at protecting and enhancing biodiversity in agricultural systems by: scaling up regenerative agriculture practices to protect soil health; developing product portfolios to boost cultivated biodiversity and increase the resilience of the food and agriculture models; and eliminating deforestation, enhancing the management, restoration and protection of high-value natural ecosystems.

3.       On September 22nd, 87 companies signed a UN climate pact to keep global temperatures within 1.5°C. Just before the start of the UN Climate Summit, 59 more multinational corporations committed to the Paris Agreement target that requires companies to reduce their emissions in line with a 1.5°C global temperature rise and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. 

4.       230 investors worth $16.2 trillion call for aggressive corporate action to combat deforestation. The statement called upon companies to tackle the financial risks associated with ongoing deforestation as well as market risks within their operations and global supply chains.  For more information, view the complete statement.

Social Good Summit (#2030NOW)

Just before the Climate Action Summit, Power Panel attended the Social Good Summit.  Also, in its tenth year, the Social Good Summit chose 2019 to be a year to focus on climate change, bringing together global leaders, activists, and brands for an impactful day inclusive of constructive dialogue. 

This year brought an impressive lineup of speakers…  From Kathy Calvin (President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation) in discussion with Cindy McCain as they explored “Acts of Civility to Build a Better World” (#ActsofCivility), to Dr. Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA and Columbia University, sharing hard facts about rising sea levels and the health of our oceans, the event was both educational and awakening. 

During Dr. Kate Marvel’s panel (On the Edge: Climate and Coastal Cities) with Rhiana Gunn-Wright and led by Dr. Ayana E. Johnson, Dr. Marvel put the climate crisis in real terms.  She stated, “Climate Change isn’t a scientific problem – It is something that affects all of us”.  She continued by stating, “Doing nothing means we are committing to massive changes in the way we live… And we have a choice as to what kind of change we want to see.”

In Jay'Len Boone’s presentation “Act Now”, real and simple actions were provided for anyone to start making a difference right now.  Jay'Len has recently been designated as the eighth annual UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations and is the Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Youth in Action.  In addition to providing hope and motivation, he encouraged viewers to visit www.un.org/actnow and commit to simple actions (meat-free meals, 5-minute showers, drive less, etc.) that can add up to make a major difference.

Overall, there was no shortage of hope, or individuals, groups and businesses ready to take the appropriate steps to right the wrongs that have put us in a state of environmental crisis.  And while there were so many stories of inspiration, successful actions and leaders from all sectors, the one point that was clear across the board was simple: Change starts with you, and with all of us.  Climate change is not the future – it is now. From individual and personal choices to live sustainably and responsibly to local efforts that can be made with communities and governing bodies, the choice to take action on climate change starts with you and is in the hands of all of us.

Climate Week NYC officially continues to run through September 29, 2019, so it is not too late to get in on the latest updates and outcomes; simply visit www.climateweeknyc.org for more information.  To learn about how you can start making a difference by decreasing your carbon footprint through solar thermal energy and sustainable technology, contact Power Panel.