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Monday September 21 General

Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony: major climate commitments and messages of hope delivered by global leaders

**Full recording of the Opening Ceremony will be available on the Climate Week NYC media portal at 11:45 AM EDT**

Monday, September 21 2020, New York City – Global leaders gathered this morning for the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC, run by international non-profit the Climate Group, where major climate commitments and messages of hope about building a better future and achieving a green recovery post-pandemic were delivered.


Walmart announces landmark climate commitments

During a discussion with the Climate Group’s CEO Helen Clarkson, Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon outlined landmark plans for the world’s largest retailer to be 100% carbon neutral across its global operations by 2040 – without using carbon offsets. He also announced goals to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030.

Responding to the news, Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, an international non-profit and organizers of Climate Week NYC, said:

“As the largest retail company in the world, the scale of this commitment is momentous, and sets the tone for one of the most important Climate Week’s we’ve ever run. This is exactly the level of ambition we need to see across the board. It shows that in spite of the pandemic, business commitment to tackling climate change can and will remain on the agenda – and it has to if we’re to be in with a fighting chance of securing a healthy, fair and sustainable future. 

“By driving this scale of climate ambition through its supply chain, Walmart is making a big, global contribution to the transition to clean energy and transport. It won’t be easy, but given the progress we’ve seen Walmart make on renewable electricity through our RE100 program, we have no doubt it can achieve this.”


HRH The Prince of Wales delivers warning against inaction

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales delivered a powerful keynote address, saying that climate change

is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

He went on to add:

“we must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign.”


Responding to his comments, Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, an international non-profit and organizers of Climate Week NYC, said:

His Royal Highness’s address was incredibly moving – it is heartening to hear him and so many of our other speakers call for such large scale action. Invoking the Marshall Plan harks back to a very special moment in history, when the US led by example on the biggest issue of the day. I hope that decision makers in the US hear that call and take note.”


IMF chief speaks of optimism for green recovery

As part of a panel on the role of finance in the green recovery, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, spoke of her optimism:

“We have this unique opportunity to pour into the economy a massive stimulus. And it is just common sense that we use the money to build the economy of tomorrow, not to return to where we were yesterday… At the IMF, we are providing the analytical underpinning as to why a green recovery is robust and is better for the world we are going to live in.”

Other panelists Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, and Dickon Pinner, Senior Partner and Global Leader of Sustainability Practice at McKinsey & Company, echoed this sense of optimism.  


Climate justice crucial to building a better future

Climate justice was an important point of discussion with Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Executive Director, North America at 350.org and Mark Chambers, Director of Sustainability at the NYC’s Mayor’s Office. Somini Sengupta, New York Times climate reporter, who moderated the panel on building a better future, in particular asked about the parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis in terms of exposing underlying social inequities and racism deeply embedded in society.

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin said:

“In order to build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement that really speaks to the problem [of climate change], gets us to scale and takes up science and justice so that we have a democracy that actually responds to this, we cannot do it in siloes. We can’t do it without Black people, without Indigenous people, without people of color, without youth, and without the energy and wisdom exchange that happens when folks operate in the same space at the same time.”


Future fit business strategies for a net zero world

The role of business in achieving a net zero world, and the progress being made by firms to tackle climate change, was reinforced by speakers Mathias Lelievre, CEO of ENGIE Impact, Professor Rebecca M. Henderson of Harvard Business School, Zhenguo Li, Founder & President of LONGi and Marc Engel, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever.

Marc Engel, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever, said:

“To be future fit is simply having a strategy that pushes you to embrace the future rather than clinging to the past. Our vision is a future of a net zero and socially inclusive world – that’s what the world agreed in Paris in 2015, and let’s be very clear, that means that we have to halve our global emissions every decade between now and 2050.”

Climate Week NYC 2020 is the only major international climate summit happening this year, and for the first time, is taking place virtually. Featuring over 450 events hosted in more than 20 different countries, Climate Week NYC is ensuring that climate remains on the agenda in spite of the pandemic.

For more information follow the Climate Group on Twitter and the hashtag #ClimateWeeKNYC. Make sure to download the new Climate Week NYC mobile app to keep up to date with everything going in during the week. All events will be available to watch on the Climate Group’s Facebook Watch page. Visit our website for more information.



Notes to Editors


Media enquiries
For any Climate Week NYC enquiries, including interview requests, please contact media@theclimategroup.org.

For all other media enquiries, please contact:


About Climate Week NYC
Climate Week NYC is the time and place where the world gathers to showcase amazing climate action and discuss how to do more. Run by international non-profit the Climate Group, in association with the United Nations and the City of New York, Climate Week NYC annually brings together voices from across the spectrum to debate and implement climate action now.

Climate Week NYC 2020 Sponsors
Walmart, Opening Ceremony Sponsor; ENGIE Impact, The Hub Live Sponsor; Unilever, Platinum Sponsor; LONGi Group, Platinum Sponsor; L’Oréal, Platinum Sponsor; McKinsey & Company, Knowledge Partner; Johnson & Johnson, Gold Sponsor; S&P Global, Gold Sponsor; AstraZeneca, Gold Sponsor; AB InBev, Gold Sponsor; The Estée Lauder Companies, Gold Sponsor; JinkoSolar, Gold Sponsor; Amazon, Gold Sponsor; AT&T, Silver Sponsor; Google, Silver Sponsor; Edison International, Silver Sponsor; Bank of America, Silver Sponsor; Morrison & Foerster, Silver Sponsor; Trane Technologies, Silver Sponsor; International Copper Association, Silver Sponsor; One Earth, Silver Sponsor; Signify, Supporter Sponsor; Sungrow, Supporter Sponsor; NYC & Company, Sustainable Travel and Tourism Program Partner; Global Citizen, Youth, Public Mobilization and Justice Program Partner; American Museum of Natural History, Nature and Science Program Partner; Columbia University, US and International Policy Program Partner; Ørsted, Clean Energy Transition Program Partner; Environmental Defense Fund, Finance, Investment and Jobs Program Partner; The Nest Summit, Official Event Partner; We Mean Business, Supporting Partner; Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Supporting Partner; Facebook, Social Engagement Partner; The New Republic, Media Partner. 

About the Climate Group      
The Climate Group drives climate action. Fast. Our goal is a world of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with greater prosperity for all. We focus on systems with the highest emissions and where our networks have the greatest opportunity to drive change. We do this by building large and influential networks and holding organizations accountable, turning their commitments into action. We share what we achieve together to show more organizations what they could do. We are an international non-profit organization, founded in 2004, with offices in London, New Delhi and New York. We are proud to be part of the We Mean Business coalition. Follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup.

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