Climate Week NYC - Highlights from Week 1

Peter Polanowski

Published September 22, 2023
in News

By Peter Polanowski

New York's centre stage for climate action this week, as the 15th annual NYC Climate Week kicked off this Sunday. Started by Climate Group in 2009, it's now grown into one of the largest annual climate events, bringing together over 400 different activities across New York. 

Some call it the 'Burning Man' of climate conferences, due to it's glamour and 'trendiness', other's call it the 'Climate Davos', for it's increasing 'elite-ness' while others, like Climate Group's CEO call it the "Fashion week of climate events", with all the right people in the industry you need to work with in one place.

Whichever way you look at it, there's no denying that North America and the world's top climate thought leaders are there for one common goal - staving off the worst effects of climate change through tech innovations, grassroots movements and policy. From brave protestors calling the 'end of fossil fuels' to bold policy announcements on climate disclosures and everything in between, here are some highlights from the week of all things climate.

Thousands march in Manhattan to call on the 'end to fossil fuels'

The largest climate protest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the first day of Climate Week NYC. Sunday's march was meant as a protest to end fossil fuels, with US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez telling supporters that the movement needs to become "too big and too radical to ignore". Between 50,000 and 75,000 people attended the protest in Manhattan.

Everybody's talking about California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom with NYT Correspondent David Gelles on Stage at Climate Week, announcing the signing of a pair of recently passed bills that mandate climate disclosures (Image source: The Climate Group)

California Governor Gavin Newsom showed what government climate leadership looks like, when he announced on stage at Climate week that he'll be signing two pieces of recently passed bills that mandate climate disclosure from large companies operating in California.

Senate Bill 253 and 261 enable the California Air Resources Board to develop and enforce rules that mandate both public and private companies with revenues over $1 billion to disclosure their GHG emissions from Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. The rules will apply to roughly 5,000 companies doing business in California.

Gov. Newsom made other headlines during the UN Climate Action Summit, convened by the UN Secretary-General this week - by calling out the oil industry for their continued misinformation campaign.  

US Treasury Secretary warns of 'significant economic costs' of climate change

Janet Yellen, the US Treasury secretary was on stage at Climate Week to announce a number of voluntary principles to stimulate more private sector money into cleantech and to combat greenwashing, as a response to what she described were "significant economic costs" from global warming". She also stated that financial institutions net zero commitments need to be consistent and credible. The Treasury's recommendations outline that financial institutions' climate commitments should use credible metrics, be backed by an actionable strategy, be transparent about their commitments and progress and account for environmental justice. According to research, more than $3 trillion is needed to cut emissions each year between now and 2050 globally.

Canadian companies making an impact at Climate Week

Acuicy Founders Allison Murray and Dawne Skinner (Image source: Entrevestor)

Hydro Quebec continued to highlight it's achievements at this year's climate week, as Canada's largest utility with the cleanest grid, generating over 99% of its electricity from hydropower. They hosted the event titled "Choppy waters or smooth sailing? Navigating Corporate Climate Action in 2023".

Another Québécois climate leader - Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is also attending the week, participating as co-president of the C40 network, which brings together cities that are leading efforts in the ecological transition.

L'oréal Canada highlighted some of its circular economy challenges and initiatives at the week's first roundtable on Accelerating Sustainability through the Circular Economy. Eco-design, education and transparency were some of the key insights of the discussions.

There were also dozens of Canadian climate tech start-ups, including Acuicy - a business intelligence software for emissions reduction, which aggregates business intelligence data to help reduce companies supply chain emissions. Co-founded by our very own CEO Allison Murray and Senior Technical Expert and Canadian Circular Economy leader Dawne skinner, the duo are wrapping up four amazing months with the Venture For Climate Tech Accelerator this week, as they make prepare to raise a round of pre-seed funding.

Climate week runs from Sept 17-24.