Energy & Climate Consulting
Energy & Climate Consulting

Last week, Denver, Colorado played host to the 2018 Climate Leadership Conference (CLC). The objective of the CLC is to bring together prominent energy, climate, and sustainability leaders across business, government and academia in order to make collective progress towards building a low-carbon future.

The unofficial theme of the conference was ‘we are still in,’ which echoes the sentiment of many states, cities, and businesses in the aftermath of the United States’ decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. This year’s event had an agreeably different tone than year’s past. For one, this is the first year the EPA elected to not sponsor the event. Bloomberg Philanthropies stepped in to organize the event and foot the bill. The result of this change only fueled the attitude of empowering private entities to take action to tackle climate change.

The conference also set the stage for the Global Climate Action Summit later this year in San Francisco. Matt Rodriquez, secretary for California’s Environmental Protection Agency, facilitated a strategy exchange to a standing room only audience on the Summit’s objective of spurring additional action at the sub-national level, creating healthy energy systems, and ensuring equity for all.

3Degrees proudly served as a CLC sponsor and sent along two representatives to absorb content and speak directly with conference attendees. During the three days of the conference, there were a few topics that kept cropping up. Here is what we heard:

The big news:

Several big corporations made waves with their new climate commitments. L’Oreal USA announced their commitment to carbon neutrality by next year. “Sustainability isn’t just what we do, it’s who we want to be.” said Danielle Zaoulay, head of CSR and sustainability and Jay Harf vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability, who presented on behalf of L’Oreal.

Doug Sabo, Visa’s head of global corporate responsibility also made the official announcement that Visa has joined RE100 and has committed to 100 percent renewables across its global operation by the end of 2019.

“We congratulate Visa on joining RE100 with an ambitious 100 percent renewable electricity goal, and for demonstrating leadership by working with key stakeholders to build local renewable electricity markets,” said Sam Kimmins, RE100, at The Climate Group.

The big winners:

Some of the conference’s notable winners were Citigroup, that won the Organizational Leadership Award for its commitment to a $100 billion investment over 10 years to go towards facilitating low carbon initiatives. Goldman Sachs won the Innovative Partnership Certificate for its investment in a partnership to implement new energy efficient technologies for buildings. And a client of 3Degrees, Biogen, won an Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management/Goal Setting Certificate for their ambitious goal of 35% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas by 2030. Biogen has also signed on to RE100 with a commitment to source 100% of its global electricity from renewables.

Focus on scope 1 & 3:

Purchasing carbon offsets is no longer the primary focus of industry attention and investment. This was proven by the many topics and conversations that came out of Climate Leadership Conference. Focus, instead, is being paid to answering the question, how will we eliminate Scope 1 emissions; discussing initiatives such as electrifying thermal load.

Transportation was also a significant focus of the conference. Transportation continues to be a huge source of global carbon emissions, however, relatively little has been done to address it. With the birth of Amazon Delivery Service and the rampant growth of residential delivery needs, emissions from small-scale commercial vehicles has swollen to now comprise ⅔ of total transportation carbon emissions. And the size of commercial fleets are only getting larger, which emphasizes the need for immediate action to address this critical issue.

Momentum is building:

Climate Leadership Conference served as a massive pep rally for climate leaders. More so than ever, climate leaders across business and government are banding together to make genuine progress. Like-minded organizations are partnering together for VPPA transactions, combining resources to address the carbon footprint of joint suppliers, and sharing best practices for corporate sustainability initiatives.

Gina McCarthy served as the conference keynote speaker. As former head of the EPA, McCarthy offered unique perspective into the shift towards the privatization and sub-national activation of climate leadership. “If Washington won’t lead on climate change, the American people will” said McCarthy during her stirring speech.

Many thanks to The Climate Registry, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and Bloomberg Philanthropies for organizing another successful conference. We are proud to be part of it and look forward to many years of continued partnership.