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Financing the Clean Revolution

Date
21 September 2010
Financing the Clean Revolution

Influential business and political leaders gathered in The New York Public Library to launch Climate Week NYC yesterday – The Climate Group’s annual global forum to mobilize an international public-private response to climate change – held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. This week over 100 world leaders are gathering in New York to review progress towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals including poverty relief, building a sustainable global economy and clean energy access for all. Action to tackle climate change underpins many of these goals.

This year’s Opening Ceremony asked how the global markets for key low carbon technologies could be unleashed – from LED lighting, smart grids, and electric vehicles to carbon capture and storage and renewable energy: what government policies and public-private partnerships are required to unlock the necessary finance to kick start a clean industrial revolution.

“Climate Week NYC 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 which runs the secretariat for the week. "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."

Two months ahead of the UN’s climate talks in Cancun (COP16), Climate Week NYC provides a platform for business, government and citizens to reopen the dialogue and demonstrate their support for a global successor to the Kyoto Protocol, to be negotiated in Mexico from 28 November to 12 December 2010.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres told those assembled that taking more action to address climate change will be to the benefit of all countries and all peoples.

She said that despite the financial crisis investment in clean technologies has continued to grow. “Investors are putting their money to the winning investments of tomorrow,” she said.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest identified the important role that State and Regional Governments will play in bringing about the clean revolution, representing the efforts of The Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance. He told Christiana Figueres that subnational governments would be at the UN climate summit in Cancun at the end of the year to support the UN. He highlighted their commitment to planning 1 billion trees and working with the United Nations to support developing countries develop climate change action plans.

The World Bank’s Special Climate Change Envoy Andrew Steer said that the financial promises made by governments in at last year’s UN climate talks in Copenhagen must be delivered. He emphasised that firm government commitments were needed to stimulate even greater financial contributions from the private sector and ensure “billions” of clean energy investment were turned into “trillions”.

Philanthropist and financier George Soros said that he had thought there were already “lots of cooks in the kitchen” on climate change but that after attending the UN negotiations in Copenhagen last year he realised that the gap between what needs to happen and current efforts was becoming too great and that without multilateral action this gap would get wider. As a result he said he would focus his own efforts on practical actions including a focus on forestry and taking carbon out of coal.

Dale Seymour, Senior Vice President of the Global CCS Institute - a Climate Week NYC partner, told attendees of the need for private capital to support public funds to enable the deployment of power stations with carbon capture and storage. He launched a report funded by the Institute in partnership with Ecofin and The Climate Group that outlines key conditions to securing finance for CCS projects.

Alan Salzman of VantagePoint Venture Partners injected a sense of optimism: “Solutions are at hand. We have seen solutions in lighting, energy efficiency, power points, electric vehicles and next generation wind turbines. Now we need to deploy them at scale.”

Tracy Wolstencroft, Partner and Global Head of Environmental Markets at Goldman Sachs, said that for companies to be successful they need to have a “low RE” or low resistance to change.

Prince Albert II of Monaco announced that he would chair the EV20, a new global alliance of manufacturers, fleet owners, financial institutions and government leaders convened by The Climate Group which seeks to increase the size of the global market for plug-in electric vehicles.

ClimateWeek NYC represents a unique partnership between The Climate Group (secretariat), United Nations, UN Foundation, City of New York, New York Public Library, New York Academy of Science, the tcktcktck campaign and Carbon Disclosure Project.

Swiss Re is the founding sponsor of ClimateWeek NYC 2010 and HSBC is strategic sponsor. Other supporting sponsors in 2010 include the Global CCS Institute, Dutch Postcode Lottery, Edelman, Timberland and NASDAQ.

The Climate Group – an international NGO working with business and government leaders on climate change – is once again leading the week’s activities and acting as secretariat for other Climate Week NYC partner and affiliate collaborations.

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