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Climate Week NYC: Three Things I Hope to Hear

Matthew Banks
Sep 15, 2022

Guidehouse Insights Sustainability

As the world confronts massive and dangerous climate impacts that are more immediate, visual, and stunning, this year’s Climate Week events in New York City and the upcoming COP27 in November must mark a serious pivot in our plans for advancing collective action, beyond the pledges to an implementation phase. From historic floods in Pakistan, to summer heatwaves in the UK, to fires all over California, France, Spain, and Greece, the climate scenarios once only forecast by climatologists are now in stark relief for our daily lives. We have only 8 years to stabilize emissions and stay on track with the Paris Agreement to keep temperatures below a 1.5C global average increase and avoid dangerous runaway scenarios.

I have been a consistent participant and speaker at every Climate Week NYC since its inception 14 years ago. This year feels different. We are emerging from a life-changing pandemic and facing climate impacts that are taking on more personal implications for everyone I know. One colleague’s sister lost a house to fires in Superior, Colorado. Others report being overwhelmed by smoke-filled air in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, as air quality affects their kids and routines. My own family moved north to escape from heat, periodic social unrest, and the shorter seasons that undermine the winter sports we cherish, as warming continues to advance.

Here’s what I hope to hear at this year’s Climate Week:

  1. Mobilizing suppliers is no longer an option. It’s a necessity. Supply chain emissions account for more than 90% of many brands’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 20% of suppliers often represent 80% of a company’s emissions. Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition is one way brands are coming together to addresses this dilemma at scale, building the capacity of hundreds of suppliers on GHG footprint, targets, abatement, disclosure, and green finance. Will others step forward and join?
  2. Real capital is needed to more quickly curb emissions. Supply chain companies that are resource limited, particularly small and midsize producers and manufacturers, need access to comprehensive mentoring and support, including financial investment and grants. Who is ready to lead in establishing Marshall Plans for green financing up and down the value chain?
  3. Acceleration and accelerators require unlikely precompetitive partnerships. The universe of climate initiatives is very crowded, and we need an aggregation of pledging platforms like Race to Zero, We Are All In, C40 Cities, and US Climate Alliance, that fosters grander practical alliances under one umbrella that accelerate implementation progress. Scaling up cutting emissions is imperative to make the gains necessary by 2025 that ultimately enable us to reach net zero by 2050. Are we ready to put differences aside and move forward together on abatement.

Nearly 10 years ago, I issued a call to action with colleagues at the World Wildlife Fund, CDP, and others with The 3 % Solution,  a guide to driving profits through carbon reduction. This year at Climate Week, I sincerely look forward to hearing reports of progress on the barriers – access to capital, lack of management attention, lack of expertise. Although commitments and pledges are necessary, they are hollow if they lack efforts to get over these barriers and pave the way for others on the climate journey, particularly those in the supply chain.