Last week, New York Climate Week 2023 brought together business leaders, policymakers, activists, and change-makers to address urgent social and environmental concerns. The event highlighted the challenges we face, including issues like greenhouse gas emissions, a lack of sustained progress, data gaps, regulatory uncertainties, and greenwashing. Consistently, talks ended with urgent calls for action.
Here are six themes that emerged from Climate Week 2023:
Solutions exist; momentum is needed:
While solutions to pressing issues like the water crisis exist, the critical challenge is building momentum to implement them at scale. At the UN Leaders Summit, Al Hashimy stated, “The era of commitments has passed, and the time for concrete action has arrived.”
The urgent need for policies and incentives:
One of the central themes included the need for policies and incentives to drive sustainability. As we saw in The Global Sustainable Development Report 2023, the world is off track in achieving all SDGs. SDGs 8, 12, and 3 are the most targeted by policies. SDGs 12 and 3 are among the best-performing, suggesting that public policies may be driving this progress.
Transparency and accountability:
To accelerate progress, transparency and accountability are imperative. This involves a strong emphasis on data and climate disclosures to hold businesses and governments accountable for their environmental impact.
Beyond climate, nature is a primary focus:
Climate action is not just about reducing carbon emissions; it's also about safeguarding human rights and preserving nature. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) recommendations were launched in September of 2023, emphasizing the importance of nature-related risk management and disclosure. Many conversations focused on the intersection of climate and nature, and how a focus on how biodiversity and ecosystem protection are essential to tackling climate change.
Greenhushing and the ESG backlash:
Climate Week 2023 witnessed a shift towards 'Greenhushing,' with much fewer bold commitments launched than years past. Companies are toning down their announcements and public statements in response to uncertainty around SEC guidelines and politicization of ESG. (What is our stance? Storytelling without substance is greenwashing; substance without storytelling is a missed opportunity.)
Leveraging responsible AI and technology:
Responsible AI and technology can be utilized to achieve net-zero goals more quickly. Leveraging these tools to optimize energy use, monitor environmental changes, and enhance sustainability efforts is seen as a critical strategy.
We left New York Climate Week 2023 feeling inspired, hopeful, and more committed than ever to continue to evolve our own climate reduction ambitions. How’s your company progressing on its climate journey? Need help? We’re here to guide you.