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6 Key Takeaways for Companies from Climate Week 2023

First Climate experts Mike and Max recently returned from an impressive round of introductions and discussions at Climate Week 2023 in New York

Niger Delta Mangroven

With a lineup of 400+ individual events at locations throughout the entire city and innumerable networking opportunities, Climate Week is without a doubt one of the liveliest and most influential conferences in the climate sector. After meeting with a slew of engaged stakeholders, the two were impressed by the palpable “spirit of climate week”. “It’s absolutely amazing to see the everyone’s determination and commitment to the common goal of climate change mitigation,” says Max. “The event will surely have a positive rippling effect on climate action, not only in North America.”

Read more to learn about the duo’s short-term key take-aways from the conference.

1. Businesses are taking on an even more active role in the low-carbon transformation

People are tired of speeches, promises, and long policy processes. People want to see climate action. And this is why eyes are increasingly turning towards companies, because if they set their mind to it, they can deliver.

When we first arrived in New York ahead of Climate Week, the United Nations released its 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report which revealed some interesting insights on the private sector:

"Amidst an overall declining trust in institutions, people are looking to the private sector to fill that gap – holding CEOs and businesses to a new standard of leadership. According to one survey, business has emerged as the most trusted institution (61%) followed by NGOs (59%) and governments (52%).”

Companies are also receiving a lot more support to decarbonize. The report also found that there is more stakeholder support for sustainability, and more investor engagement for long-term growth and investment in ESG principles. We’ve seen this grow quickly and also saw this reflected in many of our conversations with businesses across Climate Week.

Now is the time for businesses to step up and drive progress on the SDGs and climate action as well as to deliver on that trust!

2. Prioritizing decarbonization of supply chains

While it is important for companies to take climate action within their corporate fence line, it is the decarbonization of supply chains that is the real game changer.

After attending multiple events focused on this topic and speaking with a lot of people from various industries, it became clear that more and more companies are prioritizing the topic, actively engaging and seeking solutions to their scope 3 emissions resulting from their value chain. The complex nature of supply chains makes this especially challenging, but swapping experiences and lessons learned, particularly with companies from similar industries, is crucial to finding the right solutions.

It’s great that we can report that this topic gained a lot of traction during Climate Week: The solutions we offer as company was well received and will foster many new relationships within the North American market.

3. Renewable Energy: No transition without transmission

Our impression from Climate Week was that sourcing renewable energy is slowly, but surely becoming the normal practice instead of the outlier for businesses in the USA. While we have seen this development in Europe for quite some time, there have been some very remarkable developments within the US lately:

The real challenge for the energy transition relies heavily on how quickly renewable energy projects, whether it be solar, wind or otherwise, can connect to the grid. In the United States however, renewable energy projects are still facing an average of five years wait time to even connect to the grid. As our renewable energy team likes to say, there can be no energy transition without transmission.

New FERC rules on grid interconnectivity could be the catalyst in helping North America to meet its climate targets. This could potentially trigger increased sourcing of renewable energy certificates (RECs) in the near future to meet the huge demand in the North American market.

4. Carbon removals are gaining real momentum

That carbon removals are gaining momentum isn’t exactly surprising, given the Biden Administration’s announcement earlier this year to invest $3.7 billion in carbon removals. But Climate Week revealed that carbon removals have become more and more a part of the conversation for companies as well. First Climate has been pioneering biochar as a carbon removal technology since 2018, so this is an especially exciting development for us to see.

There are a lot of exciting and potent new climate protection technologies out there and it will be crucial to implement and scale these technologies as quickly as possible. These projects and technologies should continue to be seen as an additional tool that is to be used after reducing emissions directly.

5. We need inclusive climate action

Climate Week didn’t only bring companies together, but also many indigenous leaders and leaders from the Global South who underlined the urgency of including the Global South in climate strategies. The Global South is projected to be most affected by climate change, despite contributing the least to the problem. We cannot address the crisis effectively without taking this into account.

Directing climate finance to where it’s needed most is crucial. For us, this underscores the importance of the Voluntary Carbon Markets. Companies that purchase carbon credits to support climate projects in the Global South, or those that develop their own climate project, are making an important contribution to global climate action. We cannot allow this support to fall to the wayside.

6. It’s not too late for climate action

At times, it can feel like there is only negative news regarding the climate, triggering “Eco-Anxiety” for many. This continued even throughout Climate Week, and negative headlines highlighting the feeling of uncertainty kept many market participants and stakeholders busy at IETA’s North American Climate Summit. While media coverage can surely be important to help protect integrity and quality in the market, it can also be disappointing and discouraging at times. It’s important not to be driven into paralysis – never has climate action been more urgent than just now.

Therefore, it’s good news that there was an overwhelming feeling of positivity, collaboration, and openness to change and action at Climate Week. It was encouraging to see people, governments, NGOs, and businesses all taking action, and exchanging insights on best practices. We have the tools we need to address the climate crisis, and we can make an impact—it’s not too late!

You want to join in and commit to effective and impactful climate action? Contact us to see how we can help you develop an effective climate strategy and guide your company throughout the journey towards net zero.

Mike Hatert is COO of First Climate Markets AG

Maximilian Schlicher is Sales Manager North America at First Climate



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