US Administration Confirms Global Leadership on Climate Action As Corporate America Signs Renewable Energy Pledge
The 2016 Climate Week NYC kicked-off recently with major US brands, Canadian provincial leaders and representatives from the US administration reaffirm their commitment to leadership on climate action. The event, ‘America Means Business: US Leadership in a post-Paris World’ held at The TimesCenter in New York City, convened by The Climate Group, takes place at a critical moment with the Paris Agreement on the cusp of ratification and the US Presidential Election just seven weeks away. US Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz confirmed continued American leadership on climate action following President Obama’s historic decision to join the Paris Climate Change Agreement along with China’s President Xi earlier this month. Secretary Moniz emphasized the importance of Mission Innovation in driving clean energy research and development, and highlighted the nexus of clean energy deployment, energy access, and economic growth in the United States and globally.
In conversation with Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Moniz said, “the enthusiasm internationally that we see for Mission Innovation really is about putting innovation, now, at the centre of the discussion about solutions to climate change to accelerate the transformation to low carbon.” Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Climate Special Envoy, US State Department, reinforced the link between innovation and a clean energy transition, stating: “What’s next for innovation? Real business opportunities and real social benefits. And hold onto your seats because it’s coming fast, which is a good thing because it’s crucial to solving the climate problem.”
Climate Week NYC’s Opening Ceremony also saw Global FTSE 500 corporates show their support to US leadership on climate action by committing to renewables to help accelerate the transition to a net zero economy. Bank of America announced on stage that it would be joining RE100, the global initiative of influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity that is led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. In addition to its new commitment to power its operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2020, the bank also announced plans to go carbon neutral and set new environmental operations goals for water, paper, waste and LEED certification. As well as reducing emissions in its own operations, Bank of America for the first time announced quantitative goals to address emissions in its supply chain.
“These new commitments build on our existing environmental strategy for both our operations as well as our business activities. This includes our $125 billion environmental business initiative, which is providing much-needed capital to catalyze greater investments in clean energy and other low-carbon projects. Overall, we have provided more than $53 billion dollars to sustainable business activities since 2007,” said Andrew Plepler, Global Environmental, Social and Governance executive at Bank of America. “We’re joining RE100 to help keep these critical issues at the forefront of the business agenda, recognizing the role of the private sector in addressing challenges associated with climate change. Together we can accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and low carbon economy.”
Apple also announced that it would join the RE100 campaign, as well as announced the completion of a new 50-megawatt solar project in Arizona and new renewable energy commitments from its manufacturing partners. “Apple is committed to running on 100% renewable energy, and we’re happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives during her opening ceremony keynote. “We’re excited to share the industry-leading work we’ve been doing to drive renewable energy into the manufacturing supply chain, and look forward to partnering with RE100 to advocate for clean-energy policies around the world.”
North American businesses and investors have demonstrated strong leadership in the transition to a clean energy future for all, yet leading voices from Europe showed bold action on climate is not only confined to US corporations. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips Lighting has joined The Climate Group and World Green Business Council in calling for all new buildings to adopt energy efficient LED lighting by 2020 and for all existing buildings to use LED by 2030. At Climate Week NYC, the company launched its ‘Brighter Lives, Better World’ sustainability program that includes goals for 80% sustainable revenues and 100% carbon neutral operations by 2020 as well as a shift to 100% renewable electricity.
“Our planet is warming at a pace unprecedented in the past millennium. Last August was the hottest on record. So we must act now and collectively, arriving at firm actions that make real the agreements inked in Paris last year,” said Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting. “Buildings alone account for 40 percent of global energy use and emit around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. To put buildings on a path to be carbon neutral in the first half of this century, we endorse the call for urgent renovation with connected LED technologies that can reduce electricity used for lighting by up to 80 percent.”
Bambeco, the premier brand for sustainable home goods, has demonstrated leadership in implementing a low carbon business and supply chain. Today Susan Aplin, Chief Executive Officer, announced Bambeco will be carbon neutral by 2020, making it the first net-neutral home goods company. She said: “Bambeco was built from its inception as a sustainable company and brand focused on carbon reductions in all business practices. I’ve seen first-hand the positive and compounding impact that carbon neutrality can have not only on the planet, but on a company’s bottom line, and hope to inspire other businesses through our continued success.”
All sectors are recognizing the opportunity of swift action, and in 2015, Siemens became the world’s first major industrial company to commit to achieving a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. Roland Busch, Managing Board Member and Chief Sustainability Officer at Siemens, told the audience: “Decarbonization is both an ecologic necessity and an economic opportunity. The energy sector, industrial processes and urban infrastructures offer huge potential for boosting efficiency while increasing productivity. Implementing the right technologies is the key.”
Speaking earlier in the event, Executive Director of North America at The Climate Group, Amy Davidsen said: “We now stand on the verge of a new era of bold climate action, clean energy and prosperous sustainable economies, but with limited time to seize this opportunity. Yet as we’ve seen, forward thinking businesses aren’t going to let this investment opportunity pass them by, and those that do, will be left behind.” To mark the start of Climate Week NYC 2016, as a physical reflection of efforts to move towards net-zero emissions, New York’s iconic Empire State Building will light up green later today from sunset until 2am.