Amanda Hills, President of Hills Balfour, recently held a Q&A with Adam Lake from The Climate Group, the international non-profit focused on accelerating climate action.
Adam is head of Climate Week NYC, the biggest Climate Week on earth, which brings together international leaders to accelerate climate action. Adam is also responsible for The Climate Group’s work with the United Nations Climate Change on the regional Climate Week program in Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific.
In previous years, Hills Balfour’s NYC & Company team has been involved with Climate Week NYC, which traditionally takes place in New York City in late September to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly. Although Climate Week NYC 2020 will be a virtual event, Adam explains that there is still ample opportunity for organisations and individuals to get involved with the summit which will take place from 21st – 27th September 2020.
Learn more about The Climate Group’s vision for a carbon neutral future, and how its annual Climate Week NYC summit supports this goal:
Amanda Hills: What does the Climate Group hope to achieve in the next ten years - the 'Climate Decade' - through initiatives such as Climate Week NYC?
Adam Lake: Our mission is to see global emissions cut in half by 2030 as we pursue a journey to net zero by 2050. Climate Week NYC hopes to create a platform to bring together the people who can help make that happen – from both the worlds of business and government – and create an opportunity to highlight success and tackle collaboratively the challenges that cross our path.
Climate Week NYC is just part of the story of how The Climate Group is trying to do this. Through our world-leading programmes, such as the RE100 renewable electricity initiative, and our EV100 electric vehicle campaign, we can take advantage of strength in numbers and co-ordinate the influence and purchasing power of those companies that are part of our network to push through change.
AH: Why is New York City the ideal location for The Climate Group to host its flagship annual summit?
AL: We hold Climate Week NYC every year during the UN General Assembly because it enables us to work more closely with global heads of state, and also allows us to benefit from the huge amounts of energy and focus that broader business and government leaders direct towards the city. NYC is home to a vast array of global HQs, and most large organisations have branch offices there too, so it allows us to engage with the widest possible audience whilst reducing the need for avoidable international travel.
But there are other reasons why NYC hosts the largest Climate Week in the world. New York City is genuinely leading the way in implementing policies that tackle climate change. I also think that New Yorkers embody a commitment and enthusiasm for building a better future that serves as the foundation of everything we do, which is one of the reasons why there were over 350 events organised by New Yorkers last year as part of the Climate Week. That level of engagement brings everything to another level.
AH: How can people around the world get involved with Climate Week NYC 2020 in its digital capacity?
AL: As we embark on a totally restructured event this year there are so many more opportunities for people to take part digitally. It’s actually making us think a lot about how we should do things a bit differently in future years when physical events can once again take centre stage.
All of the events that we host will be broadcast online for anyone to watch, creating a digital platform where people can meet, take part in discussions and set up meetings to continue the important networking part of Climate Week NYC.
We are also broadening our events programme and inviting people from around the world to organise, as well as participate in, events. We’ll be launching a mobile phone application this summer to allow people to navigate the ten themes that all of the events will fit in.
All of this combined will allow us to bring in more people than ever before, something we’re really determined to achieve.
AH: What changes can individuals make in their everyday lives to contribute to a carbon neutral world?
AL: I think there are two types of action that a person can take. The first type is making specific, often quite small, changes to your everyday life that have an impact. These can be things like reducing packaging, walking instead of driving, switching energy providers or better insulating your home. These are the things that you can do, and collectively they can make a difference.
But there’s another sort of action you can take. Supporting change on the bigger things that will support a more seismic shift in how we consume. Positive changes are being made all the time to the homes we build, the cars we drive, or the investments made on our behalf through pension funds managers. By using our influence as consumers, we can accelerate the progress that these companies are making. The same can be said for politics too. Showing that tackling climate change is a priority for us helps ensure it becomes a priority for our elected officials.
AH: Do you have any final thoughts or words of encouragement for the travel industry?
AL: This year will go down in history for generations to come. It has been a complete disaster for many, and the financial, emotional and health ramifications may be with us for many more months, or even years. But despite that rather bleak backdrop we have seen how our planet is able to bring out its brightest and best to innovate and invest in creating solutions for the good of humanity.
2020 has been a huge test for humankind, but even though mistakes have been made and we are not out of the darkness just yet, if we can retain that energy, focus and determination we will be in the strongest possible position as we stand up to the climate challenge ahead. We have been saying that the status quo is no longer an option for a while now, this first year of the Climate Decade to halve carbon emissions by 2030 has taken “business as usual” off the table. Now we have a chance to build a better future.
To find out more about The Climate Group and Climate Week NYC, please visit: www.theclimategroup.org