(Bloomberg) — Climate change is the focus of many events in New York City this week, as world leaders, corporate executives, activists and artists all gather for the United Nations General Assembly and the Week Climate.
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That includes Wednesday’s Race to Zero and Resilience Forum, organized by the UN High-Level Champions for Climate Action and Michael Bloomberg, majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News. The event connects government leaders and environmental activists, with the goal of delivering capital around the world to groups working to reduce emissions without increasing debt in vulnerable communities. Speakers including California Governor Gavin Newsom and renowned naturalist Jane Goodall are discussing significant achievements made and key next steps needed.
More information about the event can be found online and on the Bloomberg Terminal.
The President of Colombia questions whether the Market can stop the Crisis (3:20 pm)
Gustavo Petro, who took office as Colombia’s first left-wing president this year, has questioned whether the markets have the ability to catch climate change, suggesting that the solution is to follow the leaders of capitalism.
“We have to think whether capitalism can overcome this climate crisis or whether society can be destroyed,” said Petro. “If you want to solve the climate crisis, that means a complete change in consumer technology. That means we have to look at it from a different lens, which is not the market.”
In a 25-minute speech that touched on political theory, lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of fossil fuel economies, Petro urged world leaders to act to save the planet from the point of no return. “We play ostriches with our heads in the sand and go from COP to COP to COP until time runs out,” he said.
The former mayor and senator took office as president in August, promising a transition to sustainable energy for the oil and coal exporter.
California Newsom slams Texas Energy Policy (3:45 pm)
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, spoke about his state’s investment in green technologies while criticizing Republican politicians for not taking such a position.
An extreme heat wave earlier this month pushed California’s power grid to the brink of failure, but Newsom said the state was able to avoid widespread power outages because it has invested heavily in large batteries. In contrast, he said, Texas has clung to fossil fuel generation after last year’s winter storm that left much of the state in the dark for days.
“Look what happened in Texas last year. They doubled down on stupidity,” he said at the forum. “Why are they doubling down on the policies that created those conditions?”
Newsom praised climate efforts by President Joe Biden, but was also critical of the White House. In particular, he compared the size of California’s electrical infrastructure package to national investments.
As the speech drew to a close, Newsom was asked if he would run for president. “No, I want to do something for a living,” he said. “I like being governor of California. I can do things.”
Standards required to ‘Match Ambition with Action’ (3:12pm)
Stronger standards are key to ensuring that emissions-cutting commitments and programs are translated into real action on the ground, Canada’s former environment minister Catherine McKenna said at the event, telegraphing the upcoming United Nations report on the question.
The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments, chaired by McKenna, is due to release its analysis ahead of November’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
The effort comes amid a wave of national and corporate net-zero commitments. And it’s driven by concerns about greenwashing and the need to “match ambition with action,” McKenna said.
“Voluntary initiatives are limited,” she said. Many communities and corporations are not part of these voluntary programs — and may not even face consequences if they fail to meet their goals.
“You need some consequences,” McKenna said, and the issue “will be a big part of the report.”
Carney says Race-to-Zero Bank Guidance went too far (3pm)
Mark Carney, co-chair of the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero, said some of the climate group’s guidance for banks went too far and has been amended.
Carney, who is also vice chairman of Brookfield Asset Management, was responding to reports that financial giants including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are considering leaving GFANZ because they are concerned that the organisation’s strict decarbonisation requirements could make them vulnerable to the law. Carney did not mention any financial companies in his presentation at the event.
See also: Banks may leave Mark Carney’s Legal Risk Climate Group
Race to Zero, the body behind the criteria underpinning GFANZ, issued a clarification on Friday, updating its guidance on fossil fuels and new coal projects. He said they were aware that “there could be legal concern” in these areas while reiterating that his members always had to phase out coal and align with the goal of warming limit to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Rich Nations Must Address ‘Deficit,’ Shoukry Says (2:30 pm)
Rich nations must work to overcome lingering mistrust over their failure to meet climate finance commitments, according to Sameh Shoukry, COP27 president-designate, highlighting a source of tension that threatens to undermine the upcoming negotiations arrive in Egypt.
“There is a trust deficit, and we need to get that trust back,” Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister, said at the forum.
Rich nations are still not meeting their pledge of $100 billion in annual funding to help poor countries combat climate change — a gap that has yet to be filled. A plan for after 2025 is also still being developed.
While the upcoming COP27 climate summit is meant to focus on implementation, Shoukry’s comments highlight the extent to which other concerns may interfere. Climate-vulnerable countries are pushing to establish a loss and damage program that will help nations deal with devastating floods, droughts and other consequences of a warming planet.
As for loss and damage, “it’s still a question of whether it will be adequately addressed,” Shoukry said.
Countries Need to Boost Climate Ambitions, Stiell Says (1:55pm)
Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, emphasized the importance of corporate action to support national emissions reduction commitments, even as he urged nations to step up their ambitions.
“Paris, Glasgow and many other conferences proved that climate change has slowly moved to the center of the international agenda, but it is time to move it to the center of all national agendas,” Stiell said at the event.
His comments come about six weeks before the next United Nations summit in Egypt, and days before countries are due to present any new or revised commitments to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement.
Transparency and accountability initiatives are also key, he said. “Promises made must be promises delivered.”
Nordic Real Estate Partners push to Make Cities More Walkable (1:20 pm)
Nordic Real Estate Partners A/S is partnering with a group of around 100 mayors worldwide to make cities less dependent on cars as part of the fight against climate change.
The collaboration announced on Wednesday between the Copenhagen-based firm and the group, C40 Cities, will advance the so-called “15-minute cities” concept – the idea that cities should be designed to have everything residents need within of a 15 minute walk. , a bike ride or a public transit ride. The effort will begin with pilot programs in several cities, which have not yet been announced.
Claus Mathisen, NREP’s chief executive officer, did not reveal how much money the firm has committed to the initiative but said it had made a “significant financial contribution”. Nordic Real Estate Partners has 18 billion euros ($17.8 billion) in assets under management, he said.
“Emissions are reduced in compact, mixed-use neighborhoods,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40, during a press conference. The concept helps reduce carbon emissions and “reclaim space in cities for people from polluting vehicles,” he said.
Bloomberg Focuses on Petrochemical Plant Growth (12:30 am NY)
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced an $85 million program to slow the expansion of the petrochemical industry, building on past initiatives that pushed to close coal plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The effort announced Wednesday will target 120 new or proposed oil, gas and petrochemical plants across at least five states, from the US Gulf Coast to the growing gas hub of the Ohio River Valley.
“The world is transitioning to renewable energy,” but oil and gas companies are turning to plastics and petrochemicals as a rescue, said Abigail Dillen, president of Earthjustice. “We cannot invest new fossil fuels.”
Funding could help frontline communities already fighting against plastic and chemical plants, including Louisiana’s infamous “Cancer Alley.” Those activists are like David fighting Goliath, said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., chairman of the Beyond Petrochemicals Campaign. “It’s time to give David new stones for his slingshot.”
Cheap Hydrogen Offers ‘Magic’ Path to Clean Industrial Processes: Gates (12:10 pm NY time)
Hydrogen has the potential to significantly reduce emissions from industrial processes, if it can be produced at a low enough cost, according to billionaire Bill Gates.
Industrial processes for products such as steel and cement are significant sources of emissions. Although there are new ways to produce them, high costs are still a barrier. Technologies to produce hydrogen can help address these challenges, Gates said during the event.
“If you get the hydrogen cheap enough, you get the super magic thing, which is that the green product doesn’t cost more,” Gates said.
Innovation Key to Climate Fight, says New Zealand’s Ardern
Fostering new technologies and new environmental policies will be a key element of the global fight against climate change, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit.
Her comments reflect the growing awareness that limiting global warming is a huge challenge that will require significant support from governments and businesses.
Although New Zealand has historically contributed a small proportion of the air pollution driving climate change, Ardern has been praised for her aggressive stance on reducing emissions, putting her at the forefront of the environmental debate.
“We cannot expect environmental innovation to happen in a vacuum,” Ardern said. “As governments, we have a responsibility to create the incentives and the space for them to thrive.”
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