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Monday September 02 General

Climate Week NYC is evolving – stepping up to the challenge of the next decade

By Luke Herbert, Director of International Communications at The Climate Group

Every year in late September, world leaders come to New York. Some of those are Presidents and Prime Ministers, but most of them are businesswomen and men, young people, charities, and leaders and officials from states, regions and cities too.

For over 10 years now, Climate Week NYC has acted as a time and place where leaders in climate action, from all walks of life, come together. They may be making a big announcement or discussing in private how to do more. This, the biggest climate week in the world, succeeds in bringing together a huge range of institutions and people to conquer the biggest challenge of our generation.

In times of increased international political turbulence, the diverse approach of Climate Week NYC has an even greater role in turning words and sentiment into action. In many ways, the challenge of cutting emissions is like a stagecoach with many horses tied to it, pulling in the same direction; if the odd stallion wanders off (or certain national government), well, it's certainly not helpful, but with enough pulling on the reins, we can pick up the slack and the journey continues.

The situation in the USA has been a massive real-world test of this approach. So, it's been amazing to see many of those leaders in US businesses and states, who are speaking at Climate Week NYC this year, having material successes in driving investment in renewables and continuing progress towards the adoption of electric vehicles.

NYC goes green

New York City is also the right home for this global event, not only due to the presence of UN, which endorses Climate Week, and the Secretary General’s Summit on the Monday this year, but because New York is a vibrant, international city, bursting with ambition and people of all backgrounds with a can-do attitude. Its Mayor and the State Governor have set world-leading positions on climate. NYC & Company, a partner of Climate Week NYC, see sustainability as critical to its vast tourist and business visitor economy. It is also right on the front line of dealing with sea-level rise, with the impact of Hurricane Sandy still embedded in the psyche of the whole city.

To avoid disastrous global warming, the world needs to be cutting carbon emissions annually to 50% less than now by 2030, then more after. So how is Climate Week NYC shaping-up for this challenge? First, the week is growing every year, with 2019 encompassing over 150 events in total, as well as a two-day Climate Week Hub (extended from one day last year). The Opening Ceremony, for the second year in a row now brings together ambitious global national leaders into the conversation with businesses and states. Secondly, this year will also involve many more partners, from business supporters to NGOs, some leading whole programs of events. Thirdly, New York City itself is becoming more involved – with local businesses having the opportunity to showcase how sustainability is at their heart. There is a huge youth strand too this year, carrying-on the message from climate strikes the Friday before.

Last but not least, at The Climate Group’s own events, we will not only be sharing the biggest successes of businesses and state governments, but constructively challenging on what more needs to be done to massively ramp-up action, and how peers and suppliers can strongly encourage others to follow their lead too.

The ethos of Climate Week NYC is to bring together the broadest possible range of climate leaders and those we want to join them, to show-off the best action and ensure challenging discussions are taking place on how we do more. It’s needed now more than ever.

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