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Climate Week 2016: Businesses Lead Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy

wind turbineClimate Week 2016 kicks off today in New York City, with international business and government leaders meeting to discuss the transition to a low-carbon economy — what is means for countries and corporations, and how to achieve zero-emission value chains and communities.

From Sept. 19-25 corporate executives and government officials will attend dozens of workshops and other events. We can also expect to hear major announcements from both sectors about their progress toward meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal. Additionally, at least 20 more nations are expected join the Paris climate agreement this week, adding to the 27 that have already done so.

In addition to covering key climate change themes, however, this year’s Climate Week events send a strong message to businesses: climate change presents real risk — and opportunities — across industries and value chains. Failing to incorporate these risks and opportunities into long-term business planning can be a fatal mistake.

“Climate change is a material risk to business,” said BSR policy director Edward Cameron in an interview. “All of the associated various impacts — changing water distribution patterns, extreme weather events, droughts, storm surges — pose an important material risk inside individual companies, across their supply chains and across the marginalized communities where they operate and rely on for their workforce.

Climate change also puts natural resources that companies use to produce good and services at risk, as well as human resources. “And not just because you might lose workers due to climate events, but because increasingly talent recruitment and retention is dependent on your response to climate change.

“There’s also increasing demand for business action coming from shareholders and customers, meaning you need to be cognoscente of climate change and also aware of the various incentives to mitigate its effects.”

This, Cameron says, is why businesses should attend, or at least pay attention to, this week’s events.

It is also significant given the US political climate with two presidential candidates on opposite sides of the issue. Donald Trump has vowed to ditch the Clean Power Plan as well as the Paris climate agreement. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton would uphold both.

“This year’s edition of Climate Week NYC takes place at a critical moment,” said Amy Davidsen, US executive director of The Climate Group, which convenes the annual weeklong event. “The historic Paris Agreement is on the cusp of ratification, and with the US election following in only eight weeks, it is essential that the momentum for climate action continues and accelerates.”

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