Looking back at Climate Week NYC 2019
This year saw the biggest Climate Week event on Earth to date; Climate Week NYC, encompassing the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and a significant upsurge of youth-led climate activism.
Crucially, the week provided a global stage that inspired participation and action from businesses, governments and civil society. All eyes were truly on New York City, with the hashtag #ClimateWeekNYC trending in the city and garnering more than 807,000,000 impressions on social media across the month of September.
Hosting presidents, policymakers, business leaders and campaigners, Climate Week NYC 2019 brought together all those fighting to tackle climate change with the most ambitious and comprehensive program to date. Over 350 events took place across the city – more than doubling last year’s record – including more than 20 events hosted by The Climate Group, as well as bilateral meetings, networking sessions and interviews.
The Opening Ceremony, which took place ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, set the tone for the challenges and opportunities ahead. The morning boasted a stellar speaker line up of world leaders, U.S. governors and global business chiefs, including; Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the President of the Republic of Costa Rica; Pedro Sanchez, the President of the Government of Spain; Mette Frederiksen, the Prime Minister of Denmark; Governor Newsom of California; Governor Inslee of Washington State; Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the OECD; John Kerry, the former U.S. Secretary of State; Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever and Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE Group.
The Hub this year continued to establish itself as a central platform for businesses, governments and the wider climate community to tackle the most pressing issues in the fight against climate change. Over 1,000 delegate attended various sessions across the two days, inspiring discussions and providing solutions, as well as facilitating new partnerships to extend action beyond Climate Week NYC.
In addition, more than 20 new business commitments were made on cleaner, smarter energy as part of our corporate leadership initiatives, meaning that almost 300 multinationals across every major sector are now committed to climate action. Overall these members represent US$5.5 trillion in combined revenue, with operations in more than 140 markets and comprising more than 16 million employees – almost double the workforce of New York State.
A particularly noteworthy announcement at the opening ceremony came from RE100 member, Unilever, on its remarkable progress towards the goal of becoming a carbon neutral company before 2030. The business revealed that its operations across five continents – including factories, offices, R&D facilities, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers – are now powered by 100% renewable grid electricity. While this is a hugely impressive achievement, what’s equally significant was an honest discussion about the challenges of accessing renewables at some of Unilever’s global sites. This is yet another example of how multinational companies can send a strong demand signal directly to markets where renewables are harder to source, helping to accelerate the transition to clean energy.
Off the main stage, hundreds of side events kept the city engaged with the global climate agenda, from film screenings and panel discussions to nature walks and theatre shows. For the first time, Climate Week NYC also proudly partnered with Global Citizen to host a Youth and Activism program to highlight the global leadership of young people and their influence on climate action, as well as providing an opportunity for them to host, attend and support events and activities taking place during the week.
Reflecting on the discussions, debates, commitments and actions that have come out of this year’s Climate Week NYC, it’s clear there is a shared vision across our powerful network of governments and businesses to shape the world for the better.
Next year’s Climate Week NYC will take place between September 21 – 27 2020, alongside the United Nations General Assembly, just weeks ahead of a significant U.S. election and a critical COP26 in the United Kingdom. Our work is cut out for us, but we know what needs to be done: we must halve global emissions in the next 10 years. So, it’s time to buckle up – the Climate Decade is coming.