Jim Kim, Todd Stern, Tony Blair, Richard Branson and industry leaders open Climate Week NYC, call for urgent action

Clare Saxon Ghauri
23 September 2013

NEW YORK: Jim Kim, Todd Stern, Tony Blair, Richard Branson, farmers, conservatives, corporate chiefs say it is time to move on from the endless science debate, as business and political leaders open Climate Week NYC, call for URGENT action on climate change.

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due this week expected to show virtually unanimous scientific consensus around man-made climate change, leaders from around the world and across the political spectrum - including President of the World Bank Jim Kim, US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - came together today at the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC to call for governments and businesses to move from debating the science to delivering low carbon economic growth.

They were joined by a number of CEOs and executives from top companies, including Phil Ryan, Swiss Re, Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard, Harry Verhaar, Philips, Steve Howard, IKEA, Nancy Pfund, SolarCity as well as entrepreneurs Sir Richard Branson and Tom Steyer, International Rescue Committee Chairman and CEO, David Miliband, faith leader and Professor of Biology at Gordon College Dorothy Boorse, former Republican US Representative Bob Inglis, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), and the President of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association, Pamela Johnson. US Secretary for the Navy, Ray Mabus, who was due to speak at the event had to cancel his appearance in order to ensure that members of the Navy family get the support and services they need after last week’s tragic events in Washington.

International leadership non-profit The Climate Group, organizers of Climate Week NYC, said that America was in danger of missing out on US$3 trillion of GDP gains if it failed to invest in cleantech. It released a briefing note showing that if US businesses cut 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions they could save US$190 billion, and called for energy R&D to be increased to $16 billion a year from its current level of US$4.3 billion to ensure American companies are able to win a leading share of the growing global cleantech market.

“Decades of progress are now in danger of being rolled back, because of climate change," said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. "This is a ‘make-or-break’ decade for action on global warming. The time to address the interlinked challenges of climate change and ending extreme poverty is now.”

US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern said: “Here in the United States, the President is taking strong action on the strength of both existing congressional authority and executive authority.  At the same time, climate change is a quintessential global problem. So the international dimension is pivotal.  Countries will not be willing to take strong action unless they are confident that their partners and competitors are doing the same. It is in this regard that a new agreement in Paris in 2015 is so important.  And it will only work if it leaves ideology at the door; combines ambition with a practical understanding of each country’s capabilities and constraints; and devises a structure that promotes action by all.”

“The evidence on this is clear - it is time that we get over the science debate and start taking serious, coordinated action to tackle the effects of climate change,” said former UK Prime Minister, and Chair of The Climate Group International Leadership Council, Tony Blair.

The Climate Group CEO, Mark Kenber announced that the organisation was preparing to launch a major corporate coalition initiative which will bring together 100 of the world’s leading businesses committing to 100% renewable energy for their operations. He commented: “We’re working with businesses and governments to drive innovation in cleantech to speed up the transition to a strong, low carbon economy. Our corporate members now have a combined revenue of over $1 trillion, while our regional government partners represent almost half a billion people. Our biggest successes are when we bring both groups together to collaborate on technology and future-proofing infrastructure. We are shortly launching another major initiative – to bring together 100 leading companies to go 100% renewable by 2020. This is what climate science is really telling us –that we need bold action to deliver low carbon economic growth. ”

Climate Week NYC Lead Sponsor Hewlett-Packard announced its commitment to a 20% decrease in manufacturing and transportation-related GHG emissions intensity in their supply chain by 2020, compared to 2010. HP CEO Meg Whitman commented: “HP is taking some bold steps to respond to this challenge, not only by reducing our own footprint, but to fundamentally change the carbon footprint of IT.”

"We need to cultivate leadership that is ready and willing to drive innovation and lead progress towards the Clean Revolution. We need leaders ready to accept that the fruits of their work may not be seen during their tenure but will be valued by those whose survival depends on this work: their children's children,” said entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

Climate Week NYC 2013, celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, focuses on the themes of Leadership, Opportunity, and Security. The week’s events aim to align the political agenda with the business opportunities in building a strong, low carbon economy; deepen understanding of climate science and its implications for governments and businesses; and explore how communities can be resilient to impacts of climate change including extreme weather events.

Swiss Re Americas Chairman Philip Ryan commented: “Eleven months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the US Atlantic Coast, causing approximately $70 billion in economic losses, we are still rebuilding. The majority of losses not covered by insurance are paid for by the taxpayer. By addressing the crisis of climate change—through prevention, preparedness and financial protection—we can make our communities more resilient.”  

"For us at The Weather Company, climate change is not a political issue; it is a scientific issue – and the science tells us we have to act. We are committed to telling the climate story and increase climate change awareness by informing our viewers and users on the science behind this important issue", said David Kenny, The Weather Company Chairman & CEO. The Weather Company is the Climate Week NYC 2013 Media Partner

“Climate change is adding new dimensions of risk and misery to humanitarian crises across the world – and it especially affects those communities that are least able to withstand its most damaging effects. Acting on climate now, adaptation and mitigation, is beyond an ecological imperative; it’s a vital necessity in containing poverty and conflict,” said International Rescue Committee President and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

“US farmers know first-hand the impacts of adverse weather. Last year, we experienced the worst drought in 50 years. Despite that, our farmers continue to develop adaptive management techniques and look for promising advances in biotechnology to mitigate the impacts of future weather events so we can provide the food, feed, fuel, and fibre the world requires,” said the President of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association, Pamela Johnson.

The briefing note released by The Climate Group also highlights the fact that ideological and political divisions have prevented the US from adopting much-needed climate policies that would lower greenhouse gasses emissions and spur low carbon growth.

“Climate is a real problem that demands action. This debate is an opportunity for conservatives to step forward with a bold alternative. Rather than capping, regulating and growing government, we should be talking about a ‘true cost’ comparison between competing fuels–-eliminating all subsidies for all fuels, attaching all costs to all fuels through an upstream application of a carbon tax, pairing that tax with a dollar-for-dollar cut in other taxes, and making it border adjustable so it’s removed on exports and imposed on imports", said former Republican US Representative Bob Inglis.

“The business of America is doing business. It’s time for us to recognize that the threat of climate change is a massive opportunity to innovate and create a clean energy, low carbon economy. We have most of the technologies we need to dramatically reduce emissions today, and we can solve the remaining technical challenges. The issue isn’t human inventiveness – it’s political intransigence,” said entrepreneur Tom Steyer.

“Climate Change threatens security because it is a “threat multiplier” and an “accelerant of instability.” It is already driving internal and cross-border migration and harming food and water security; leading to conflict. The importance that military and defence planners place on climate change shows that the world is demanding action to address this issue. Those who disagree with the clear global military consensus on climate change are ignoring risk and putting the world's security in danger,” said the American Security Project CEO, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.).

Leading evangelical and scientist Dorothy Boorse said: “Science tells us that we are endangering critical ecosystems. Our faith tells us that we are the guardians of this planet – it’s not ours to destroy. We have to heed the unmistakable call of science, be true to the values of our faith and act on climate change – which harms the most vulnerable among us and threatens our future and that of our children.”

 “The amount of solar energy falling on the US in one hour of noontime summer sun is about equal to our national annual electricity demand. Millions of Americans are realizing that the best affordable, abundant energy solution for lowering their electricity bills is solar. Our solar industry is a true American success story – and has to be a key part of America’s drive to build a more sustainable, energy efficient economy,” said SolarCity Board of Directors member Nancy Pfund.

The Climate Group corporate partners IKEA and Philips stressed the value of corporate investment in innovation and the low carbon economy:

Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting, Harry Verhaar said: "According to a Philips-Ecofys report, brought together for Climate Week NYC 2013, energy efficiency could reduce fuel energy bills in the US by $550 billion and create one million jobs by 2030. LED lighting has a leading part to play in this energy efficiency push; full deployment of LEDs in the US could reduce electricity demand by the equivalent of 100 medium-sized power plants, while at the same time making our buildings and cities more attractive places to live, work and play."

“Business innovation and investment is already beginning to drive the clean revolution. Today we can power our stores with energy from wind and sun; and light customers´ homes with LEDs, which are the next best thing compared to day light. But the clock is ticking and we need the next wave of smart government policies and incentives - we have to turbo charge this clean revolution. Business is ready,” said IKEA Chief Sustainability Officer, Steve Howard.

Climate Week NYC is an annual global summit that brings together eminent business, government and thought leaders during a week-long agenda packed with diverse public-facing events and high-level meetings. The Weather Channel is Climate Week NYC 2013 media partner. Swiss Re is the founding sponsor of Climate Week NYC; HP and Solar City, the Lead Sponsors. Supporters of Climate Week NYC are NYC.gov, NASDAQ, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Environment Programme. The Climate Group’s strategic partners are Philips, IKEA, Suzlon, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Prince Albert 2nd of Monaco Foundation, Tellus Mater, the government of Quebec, and Zennström Philanthropies. The Climate Group campaign supporters are the World Bank, the United Nations Global Compact, and the Carbon Disclosure Project. 

Details of all the events that are part of Climate Week NYC are online http://www.climateweeknyc.org/


Related news:

One year on from Sandy, building resiliency to extreme weather across the US is still a matter of urgency

New briefing and infographics explore how America can meet its long term emission goals

Investments in energy efficiency can create 1.5 million jobs in America by 2030

HP announces goal of reducing supply chain GHG emissions 20% by 2020, at Climate Week NYC

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