Durban, South African played host to the second annual World Climate Summit this past December 3rd and 4th. The summit’s website and initiatives brings together literally thousands of companies from business, finance and multiple governments to discuss how various initiatives could be developed to make sustainable business profitable. The event itself was attended by over 800 representatives of these various companies, organizations and governments.
The two day summit offered an opportunity for various leaders around the world to discuss business-focused climate solutions. They looked at ways that global companies and governments can work to make business economically feasible and environmentally sustainable at the same time, and how these businesses can have a positive impact on the environment overall.
It Takes a Village The first World Climate Summit was held in 2010 in Cancun. That meeting focused on starting a dialog among business people to recognize the value of sustainable business and the positive impact that it could have on the world as a whole. That first summit garnered support for the concept that businesses could be a part of a successful environmental solution – that it takes a village to raise a healthy environment.
The second World Climate Summit this year took this a step further; this summit looked at how businesses could actually profit not just from their own sustainable practices but also from supporting various sustainability and environmentally beneficial initiatives in other companies. According to the chair of the summit committee, the goal of this second summit was to learn and share by collaborating on strategies and new initiatives that could address global climate change and help improve the global economy, from a green perspective.
Supporting a Dedicated Community All year around, the World Climate Summit organization works to support interaction between its members, brainstorming ideas for climate improvement. During the Summit itself it was recognized that companies, according to the Summit Chair, need to speak loudly and clearly, announcing the need to go green in a voice that can be heard around the world.
Among the highlights of what the Summit discussed are the following:
- The need to develop a sound plan for phasing out the use of HFC’s (the most damaging greenhouse gasses) and striving for a planet wide “net zero” deforestation policy by 2020.
- Leaders talked about thinking about our true values, as far as valuing the environment. Experts spoke about revolutionary green initiatives being implemented by power house companies such as Coca Cola, Dow Chemicals and Puma.
- Carbon capture and storage was discussed, with Zero Emissions Platform talking in depth on the C02 challenge we face. The focus was on waste reduction, recovery and recycling, as well as bettering our energy efficiency.
- The European Investment Bank ran a conversational session about how to reduce carbon footprints in business and finance.
- Siemens hosted a variety of conversations about how city infrastructure and mobility impact the environment.
- Some companies showcased examples of how sustainability can work, including a networking lounge constructed by Nedbank; the lounge, used by many speakers, representatives and VIPs, was built entirely out of sustainable building materials.
Among the other things discussed at the conference was the progress made on certain initiatives that were suggested at the 2010 conference. Reported progress included the following:
- In 2010, OPIC committed $300 million in renewable energy financing. This year they tripled their commitment to $1.1 billion.
- In 2010, the Carbon War Room announced they were creating a universal energy index for the shipping industry to use, to rank shippers by their energy use. This year they are growing and plan to add airline shipping to their tracking.
Special Recognition One aspect of the conference is to recognize those who are making great strides towards sustainable business. This is done by awarding the Gigaton Prize for contributions in the field of green. This year two prizes were awarded. The main Gigaton Prize was given to a Chinese solar company, SunTech; this company has contributed the most to reducing carbon emissions worldwide. A second Gigaton Prize was awarded to the country that has invested the most in renewable energy; this award went to Germany, a country known for their abundant eco-friendly green roofs and for current serious investments into renewable energy sources.
Moving Forward The goal of the annual World Climate Summit is to raise awareness, of course, but more so to promote action. By bringing together hundreds of industry leaders each year, the Summit promises to increase awareness and cooperation, working steadily towards a better sustainable future for business.