Discover more from Talking Climate with Katharine Hayhoe
NYC Climate Week 2023
The future is near, "report card" on the Paris Agreement, and how to catalyze social change
Who's stepping up to address the climate crisis? After spending the last week at #ClimateWeekNYC, it’s clear the answer is -- people from nearly every sector of society. Journalist Cara Buckley describes Climate Week as “a showcase of human innovation, the countless ways people in many industries are working to slow and potentially reverse the enormous harms humans have done to the planet” -- and I agree!
My travel principle is simple: I always bundle as many engagements as possible, to optimize my time and minimize my carbon footprint. Climate Week might just have set a record—30 events, panels, and meetings crammed into four days, followed by two virtual sessions after I returned!
From footwear to yoghurt, each new event I attended was full of innovators championing change in their industries, driving them towards a sustainable and carbon-neutral future.
You can listen to my conversation with, facilitated by Juliet Eilperin from the Washington Post, on recent weather extremes and how we can fuel action; explore ideas on how to accelerate the global energy transition with Columbia University’s Jason Bordoff, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, , and Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen; and join from Worth Magazine and I as we discuss how to get everyone involved in tackling the climate crisis.
There was plenty of good news to be had at Climate Week this year. I’m convinced we are at the cusp of a clean energy revolution, with renewable options becoming increasingly accessible and affordable with each passing month. I also heard about countless innovations in energy storage, sustainable agriculture, and transportation that I’ll be highlighting in newsletters to come.
On Wednesday, President Biden announced that he was creating a Climate Corps. It’s a green jobs training program that will employ 20,000 young people to plant trees, build solar panels and wind turbines, help restore wetlands, and implement sustainable agricultural solutions. And that’s not all. The state of California already had a state Climate Corps, and this week the governors of Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah announced they’d be launching their own programs too.
Also this week, Germany pledged 40 million euros to the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund. This amount is enough to make the fund, which was ratified in August, operational. The aim of the fund is to stop and reverse global biodiversity loss by the end of this decade.
And then there was the launch of "Fossil Fuel Fashion" campaign that calls on the fashion industry to decarbonize rapidly. By the end of the decade, nylon and polyester—both derived from fossil fuels—will account for a full 73 percent of fiber production if action isn’t taken. This campaign calls for the legislative action needed to decouple the fashion industry from fossil fuels.
This month the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change released its first "global stocktake," a report card that measures our collective progress since the Paris accords were signed.
"The Paris Agreement has driven near-universal climate action by setting goals and sending signals to the world regarding the urgency of responding to the climate crisis. While action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts,” it concludes. Specifically, the world must reduce carbon emissions 43 percent by 2030 if we still want to meet the 1.5 degree warming target set in Paris in 2015.
At the UN Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that "the move from fossil fuels to renewables is happening — but we are decades behind. We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels."
The discussion from the summit and the results from the stocktake, which calls for a “radical decarbonization of all sectors of the economy," will help shape the dialog at COP28 in Dubai later this year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Climate Week underscored for me how important it is to catalyze societal change. The solutions we need to fix this problem—renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency, land management—are at hand. We simply need the political will to implement them at scale.
How can you help to spur social change? Educate yourself with books, podcasts, and documentaries (here’s my recommendation list). Engage on social media. Join an organization who shares your values (I have a list of those too); support their work, spread their message, and volunteer your time. Share your concerns with your elected representatives at every level, not just federal, and vote.
Talking about climate risks and climate solutions at every opportunity is essential. Every voice, including yours, contributes to this global conversation. As my TED talk explains, it’s not about overwhelming people with the science. It’s about helping people connect their head (what they know) to their heart (why they care) to their hands (what they can do about it). Around the world, this simple message is what we most need to know, to act: Later is too late.
Weds., Sept. 27th at 2pm EDT - My event at Northeastern University with The Institute for Experiential AI and SDS Lab - in-person in Boston, Massachusetts
Weds., Sept. 27th at 7pm EDT - On climate impacts with The Museum of Science - in-person in Boston, Massachusetts
Thurs., Sept. 28th at 1pm EDT - “Putting Health at the Heart of Climate Conversations” with Harvard University School of Public Health - in-person in Boston, Massachusetts
Thurs., Sept. 28th at 7pm EDT - "New England’s Climate Future: City, Land and Sea" with WGBH - in person in Boston, Massachusetts
Weds., Oct. 4th at 7:30pm EDT- "Fall for the Book: SAVING US" with George Mason University in Fairfax, VA - in person
Sun., Oct. 29th at 4pm CDT - "If the Sky Were Orange: Art in the Time of Climate Change" a panel discussion at the exhibit at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX - in person