Looking Back on Climate Week NYC 2019: Helping the World Move Faster Toward a Zero-Carbon Footprint
As the severity and awareness of the climate crisis mounts, Climate Week NYC, held this year from September 23-29, is taking on a new sense of urgency. Founded in 2009, the summit takes place each year alongside the UN General Assembly, bringing together leaders from business, government, and nonprofit groups to spur global climate action.
This year was the biggest yet for Climate Week NYC, bringing the largest climate strikes in history and demonstrations in more than 180 countries. Greta Thunberg, just 16 years old, emerged as an ambassador for a new generation, making her voice heard at the United Nations and around the world. It’s clear that accelerating climate action is a global priority with unwavering commitment from millions of people, including many who are too young to vote.
There’s cause to be optimistic: This year, 87 multinational companies set emissions reduction targets, and 77 countries committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. India pledged to produce more renewable energy, Russia said it would ratify the Paris Agreement, and Germany pledged to invest $60 billion to reduce emissions. Some of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers committed to sustainable investing by making their portfolios carbon-neutral by 2050.
ENGIE was a proud sponsor of Climate Week NYC 2019. Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE Group, participated in a panel discussion during the Opening Ceremony and shared her thoughts on what energy companies can do to accelerate sustainability transformation:
“To decarbonize is not enough … it needs to be affordable. And the only way I know of to make it affordable is to reduce energy consumption massively. ENGIE used to be primarily an energy provider, but we shifted … we inverted our business. Now our first order of business is to help our clients consume less energy … We believe that what is at stake is our license to operate. We have to rapidly align our business model with what society wants. We started three years ago, and over this very short period of time we have been able to demonstrate that at the end of this shift we are more profitable, we are more rapidly growing, and we are more attractive.”
ENGIE is consistently adding renewable capacity, reducing its CO2 emissions by 56% between 2012 and 2018 and aiming for another 20% reduction in 2020. To coincide with Climate Week NYC 2019, ENGIE announced its new renewable energy initiatives with Microsoft and the acquisition of a portfolio of community solar-plus-storage projects in Massachusetts. In July, it launched ENGIE Impact, a new company that engages with industry leaders such as GE Renewable Energy to help them develop strategies and set roadmaps to achieve sustainability and zero-carbon objectives.
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, also spoke during the Opening Ceremony, touting his state’s commitment to renewable energy:
“As we change the way we produce and consume energy, it is spawning new companies, new energy, new growth. We lead in venture capital and green tech—five to one is the number of clean energy jobs in the State of California versus fossil fuel jobs, which makes the paradigm of this notion of alternative energy flip on its head. Alternative energy in the State of California is [now] fossil fuel energy … no longer defined by wind and solar and battery technology, which are dominant now. We’re applying our ideals, we’re manifesting those ideals in a real way that is not just about growth, but also inclusion.”
ENGIE Storage is proud of our parent company’s vision and our home state’s leadership in moving the world toward a zero-carbon future that is affordable and economically sound. Isabelle closed her remarks at the Opening Ceremony by reminding us all that we need to take action to help curb climate change: “If everybody waits for everybody, we cannot manage the energy transition at the right pace.” At ENGIE Storage, we wholeheartedly agree with her, and we’re transitioning our headquarters in Santa Clara, California from 53% renewable sourced energy to 100% by year-end.
*Event photography provided by The Climate Group.