On December 4th and 5th, over 800 business, government, non-profit and NGO leaders from five continents gathered during the weekend intermission of the COP 16 climate talks. The first World Climate Summit is billed as "a global, collaborative 10 year platform to bring together leaders from industry, finance, science and government. The goal: to learn, share, strategize, and launch new initiatives to address climate change and build the global clean economy." GreenBiz.com's Heather King reviews the conference highlights -- Sir Richard Branson's mandate for business, Gigaton award winners such as Nike, 3M, and Ted Turner, and the relevance of WCS to the U.N.'s climate talks leader, Christiania Figueres.
The tenor of the first World Climate Summit (WCS) was positive -- a refreshing break from the diminishing optimism dampening the COP 16 talks. Richard Branson rallied business to take charge of advancing climate change solutions. "We can't wait for government [to figure this out]. We have to tackle climate change with business and financiers. Business has to lead the way."
Throughout the weekend, executives opted for business over beach. A diverse array of companies shared best practices and innovations, many of which have potential to transform entire industries. Hannah Jones, VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike, is now working with competitors to share intellectual property on improvements in packaging and other sustainability related advances, while not compromising Nike's ability to compete on the product front. Last year, Nike partnered with Best Buy and others to launch the Green Xchange to facilitate the sharing of green product research, designs and patents. Such intellectual property sharing has strong potential to accelerate sustainability advances across the retail industry and beyond.
Andreas Klugesheid, VP of Governmental Affairs at BMW, stated that "[embracing] sustainability is a clear management decision, not an accident." He added that BMW already has a large fleet of electric vehicles on the road. In the future, we can expect BMW to roll out carbon fiber cars, which are lighter weight and more fuel-efficient vehicles. BMW hopes to encourage its customers to buy into a transportation portfolio of BMW products integrated with public transportation use, such that they have access to the transportation means that best suits their need -- day by day. "In the future, we will be a mobility company, not a car company."
WCS did not yield any binding agreements or blueprint going forward. However, there were several announcements that, although voluntary, have potential to advance various industries along the sustainability curve.
The Carbon War Room launched the Gigaton Awards, the Oscars of low-carbon industry, where they recognized the outstanding accomplishments of companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, Nike, 3M, Vodafone, GDF Sues, and Suzlon. The purpose of these awards is to foster "the race to be greener" major industry sectors -- consumer staples, consumer discretionary, industrials, communications, utilities, and energy. The Carbon War Room also announced ShippingEfficiency.org, a universal energy index for the shipping industry. The program will use a public ranking system to motivate the industry to reduce its carbon intensity.