Climate Week Brings Thousands Together for Clean Innovation

Climate Week Brings Thousands Together for Clean Innovation

Climate Week NYºC 2010 opened today with more than 2,000 people expected to attend the events and presentations that are focused on bringing together the world's most influential government and business leaders to discuss what it will take to unlock the financing needed to ignite a clean industrial revolution.

The Climate Group and partners that include the United Nations, the city of New York and founding sponsor Swiss Re kicked off Climate Week with an opening ceremony at the New York Public Library that drew about 300 people. (Analyses, reports and other Climate Week coverage is available at GreenBiz.com/ClimateWeek2010.)

Throughout the week international leaders in government, business and the nonprofit world will headline discussions on how best to capitalize on the progress made by cities, states, regions and corporations around the world since Climate Week NYC last year.Climate Week Inset

Participants include Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Prince Albert II of Monaco; George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC; and Alan Salzman, CEO and managing partner of VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Topics will include risk transfer and adaptation in developing economies, the launch of the EV20 alliance -- a group focused on speeding the deployment of electric vehicles -- and policies to stimulate the growth of emerging clean technologies.

"Climate Week NYºC 2010 provides an essential global platform to discuss the fundamental changes needed in the way we produce and consume energy," said Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group. "Cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 will require investment of US$45 trillion. Financing of this magnitude will require the biggest public-private partnership of all time but will unlock a clean industrial revolution that will be good for the economy, good for jobs and good for the environment."

Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger emphasized that it was important for government to lead this dialogue with business on clean energy partnerships. "Government and business everywhere need to work together in public-private partnerships to cut emissions and be on the forefront of clean energy and clean air," Schwarzenegger said. "Much like we in California did by passing the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), those taking part in Climate Week NYC are also taking this vital step to help unlock the critical finances, technologies and policies we need to secure new jobs and future economic growth."

The backdrop for Climate Week NYºC is once again the annual UN General Assembly, where the focus will be on progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals. Not surprisingly, addressing climate change underscores several of the most important MDG goals including global partnership, ending poverty, environmental sustainability and clean energy access for all.

This year's Climate Week NYºC activities, anchored by a series of high-level meetings, panel discussions and cultural events, will establish a context for discussions at the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico later this year.

Figueres of UNFCCC said, "It is my firm belief that any solution to climate change will be moot without the strong involvement of business, which ultimately creates the opportunities, the growth and jobs in all national economies. What we are looking at amounts to a new industrial revolution."

"The faster governments release the potential of business to deliver that change, the faster their economies will benefit from new growth and reach a low-emissions future, and the faster they will be able to climate-proof their societies" Figueres said. "Companies that have gone green have created an early-comer advantage for themselves in the global marketplace. This trend needs to grow and establish itself as a global norm."

Dr. Han Seung-soo, former prime minister of the Republic of Korea and chairman of the board of directors of Global Green Growth Institute, said, "There is no choice but for the global society to adapt to the effects of climate change. We must unlock our potential to promote technological innovations and behavioral changes aimed at delivering low-carbon future.  Some remarkable changes are already taking place all over the world. While there is no silver bullet to dealing with climate challenge, I am heartened to see a broad coalition from all sectors of society striving to achieve green growth within their own respective realms."

Sustaining carbon neutral economic growth will require new partnership models, strategic alliances and investment in emerging technologies such as electric vehicles, smart grids, clean energy and carbon capture and storage. As the battle for the future of clean energy plays out in policy arenas around the world, the establishment of the appropriate framework and conditions for rapid development and strategic distribution of sustainable solutions will become more critical.

Launching the EV20 initiative, one such alliance of businesses, states and financial institutions dedicated to scaling up a global market for plug-in electric vehicles, Prince Albert II of Monaco said, "The rapid growth of an e-car market will cut city pollution and global greenhouse gas emissions helping to conserve our climate and our energy resources. The development of EV fleets could also help to shift the way we use and store energy."

The goal of Climate Week NYºC 2010 and The Climate Group is to serve as a catalyst for helping government and business set the world economy on the path to a low-carbon, prosperous future by exploring how progressive policy and finance mechanisms can generate sustainable low carbon development, boost energy security, create jobs and secure clean energy access for all.

Here are comments from other opening ceremony speakers and Climate Week NYºC Partners.

Québec Premier Jean Charest said, "Federated states and regional governments are at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. They create the right conditions for innovation, whether it's in the development of renewable energy or of new technologies that improve our economic efficiency and the quality of our natural environment. Québec is strongly committed to this clean energy revolution: it aggressively supports the development of its environment and clean tech sectors and is one of the world's leading producers of hydro-electricity. My participation in the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC reaffirms Québec's as well as other federated states and regional governments shared commitment to playing a leadership role on climate issues for the years to come."

"A global deal on climate change is essential, but developing countries are not waiting," said Andrew Steer, climate change envoy for the World Bank. "Four out of five of our client countries are now prioritizing climate change in their World Bank country assistance strategies, a tripling of demand in the past five years despite the worst economic downturn in decades."

Matthias Weber, a group management board member, Swiss Re, noted that, "Swiss Re is proud to be the founding sponsor of Climate Week NYºC and a long-standing supporter of The Climate Group, which is bringing together an important and influential group of government, business and civil society leaders. Through this initiative, we aim to demonstrate the crucial role which insurance can play as part of a climate adaptation strategy to help manage climate risk and provide an effective way to pre-finance disaster recovery."

Alan Salzman, CEO and managing partner of VantagePoint Venture Partners, added, "We are pleased to be contributing to Climate Week NYºC and to add a perspective on how game-changing clean technologies and public/private financing will bring about needed industry transformations, secure economic growth and reduce global carbon emissions."

As Dale Seymour, vice president of strategy at the Global CCS Institute, pointed out, "The Global CCS Institute is a proud supporter of Climate Week, which this year is looking at the critical question of how global markets for low carbon technologies -- such as CCS -- can be unleashed. If we are to achieve the kinds of global emissions reductions that are necessary for a sustainable future, we must ensure that technologies like CCS play the important role that they can in responding to the world's low carbon energy needs."

Carbon Disclosure Project CEO Paul Dickinson said, "Climate change is not only one of the biggest challenges mankind is facing today, it is also one of the biggest opportunities for business globally. The provision of low carbon technologies and solutions has the potential to transform the way businesses use energy, communicate and operate and the opportunities associated are huge."

Kelly Rigg, executive director, TckTckTck Campaign, said, "It's incredibly easy to feel despondent about climate change because all we hear is the bad news.  But people and businesses all over the world are rolling up their sleeves and taking steps to reduce their emissions. As we do our part, governments must do theirs by demonstrating the political will to achieve breakthroughs in the climate negotiations."
Tracy Wolstencroft, global head of environmental markets at Goldman Sachs, said, "We are pleased to be a part of Climate Week NYºC. The transition to a low-carbon economy offers enormous opportunity for developing clean energy solutions while also creating jobs and driving economic growth. The clean energy market has the potential to become one of the largest emerging markets in the world and is critical to securing a more sustainable future."

Irene Dorner, CEO of HSBC Bank USA, N.A.,  said, "HSBC and The Climate Group share a common objective - raising awareness of the urgent threat of climate change, and inspiring action among individuals, governments and businesses around the world. Climate change will impact everyone in ways we cannot predict, and HSBC has a responsibility to engage with our customers, employees, shareholders and the communities we serve to help make a difference for our planet."

Boudewijn Poelmann, the chairman and cofounder of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, said, "The Dutch Postcode Lottery is pleased to be a supporter of The Climate Group and Climate Week NYºC. By raising funds for NGO's through organising lotteries, actions required can be taken to move towards a cleaner and fairer world for future generations."

Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz said, "In hopes of sharing strength, resources and ideas amongst the world's leading businesses and governments who have chosen to tackle climate change, Timberland, as a member of The Climate Group, is happy to support Climate Week NYºC. I look forward to seeing what the best and the brightest in business are doing to finance and deploy impactful climate solutions."

UK Climate Change Minister Greg Barker MP said, "I'm supporting Climate Week NYºC by urging all countries to make the transition to a low carbon economy. Not only will this cut global emissions and increase energy security but will unlock financial and business opportunities across the world. The real key to making this happen, in particular in developing countries, is to get finance flowing so that green investment is at the heart of growth. New York City will this week become the focus for discussions which can help in progressing a meaningful global deal on tackling climate change."

Karin Ezbiansky Pavese, vice president of innovation and sustainability at the New York Academy of Sciences said, "The New York Academy of Sciences values its role as a convener of leading scientists, policy makers and industry; it is currently actively exploring how New York State can leverage its clean technology assets within the paradigm of a low carbon economy. The goal of Climate Week to bring global actors together for solutions-oriented dialogue about climate change is congruent with our mission. We are enthusiastic about our involvement and look forward to witnessing the outcomes."

Callum Grieve is global director of communication for The Climate Group. Articles, analyses and resource material about Climate Week NYºC are available at www.greenbiz.com/topic/climate-week-nyc-2010. For more information and event developments, visit www.climateweeknyc.org and Twitter @ClimateWeekNYC. 

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