Climate Week NYC 2014: toward a vibrant, low carbon economy

Business, government leaders and civil society join to open the 6th Climate Week in New York. Swiss Re was part of the ceremony.

The sixth annual Climate Week NYC kicked off its opening event on September 22nd against the backdrop of the largest ever climate march just a day before on the streets of New York. An estimated 300,000-plus people took part in the "People's Climate March," showing that public appetite for action on the topic is strong.

Just 24-hours later it was government and business leadership's turn to show their commitment to the cause with the opening of Climate Week NYC. Swiss Re is the founding sponsor of the gathering. Climate Week features more than 100 events, including the UN International Climate Summit, over the course of the  week in New York City.

The opening ceremony featured a star-studded cast of high-profile business, government and civil society players who were at Manhattan's Morgan Library to call for strong leadership and swift action on climate change. With more than 250 senior executives and politicians packed into the venue, this was the largest turnout in the event's history since it began in 2009.

Swiss Re Americas Chair Phil Ryan speaking at Climate Week opening

At the global forum's opening ceremony, Swiss Re America Holding Corporation Chairman Philip Ryan joined US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, among others, to collectively call for action towards a low carbon economy.

Businesses bond in face of climate change

One of the main announcements of the day was the launch of RE:100, a new campaign to help increase the global market share for clean energy.

The ambitious campaign, backed by Swiss Re, aims to secure the commitment of 100 of the world's largest multinational companies to use 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Speaking at the launch, Ryan said: "The transition to a low carbon economy will not be successful without a paradigm shift in the way we power our planet. The shift needs to gather pace rapidly." Among the other companies to make this commitment on stage at Climate Week were IKEA, Nestlé, Philips and Mars.

The keynote address of Climate Week NYC came from US Secretary of State Kerry, a long time advocate for action on climate change. He painted a gloomy picture, but stressed it is not too late to take meaningful action.

"Climate change is a challenge that knows no borders," he said. "We are on track to warm our climate by four degrees but the worst impacts can still be prevented. It's imperative, though, that we act now. Last month was the hottest August in recorded history. We need to rise above politics and recognize that we all have a moral obligation to tackle climate change."

And Ryan warned that the damage to the planet will not just be environmental.

"If unmitigated climate change could cost the world economy around 20% of its GDP by the end of this century."

While it is clear that tremendous work is needed, it is also clear that the seeds of a clean revolution are taking root as government and business recognize the importance of the task before them.


Published 23 September 2014

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