Reuters held its first ever Global Leadership Series event in real life last week, welcoming over 400 guests in-person at Reuters IMPACT in London. The event was livestreamed on the Reuters IMPACT page and across both Reuters Events and Reuters News social handles, with nearly 2 million live views, over 170 million impressions of #ReutersIMPACT and over 600 pieces of digital coverage captured.
IMPACT brought together leaders from politics, business and finance to challenge each other and share stories of what they are doing to tackle climate change. While there is still a huge mountain to climb, there were real glimmers of hope as we heard both what is being done and what we as individuals, as companies, as countries can do to move things forward more quickly.
Most of the speakers were determinedly optimistic: some were stubborn optimists, some were pragmatic optimists and there was also the occasional worried optimist.
One thing was certain – we’ve all been talking about climate change for years but, in the words of Steve Varley, EY Global Vice Chair for Sustainability “Enough of pledges and promises. We now need to see progress and performance.”
One of the interesting themes to come out of the conference was the view that carbon credits and offsetting had allowed companies to push responsibility for carbon reduction to other people. Instead, some of our speakers advocated taking more action at the individual and corporate level and then pushing for more climate regulation. All agreed we cannot wait for politicians to set the green agenda.
Ideas shared included:
- Generate more renewable energy locally, be that solar panels on home roofs or powering Dallas Fort Worth airport with local wind power. That should also reduce the amount of energy wasted between the power plant and end use. “The way the system works now, we waste two thirds of our [fossil fuel] energy in Europe. Let’s not pump new money into old, broken systems,” said Jonathan Maxwell, founding partner and CEO of Sustainable Development Capital, LLP.
- Support green financing in any way you can: banks offering lower rates on climate-combatting projects, more international financing to help emerging economies leapfrog to renewable energy, making sure your pension is invested in green funds. “Moving your pension to green is 7 times more impactful than going vegan … but do that too,” said Deborah Meaden of UK TV programme Dragon’s Den and The Big Green Money Show podcast.
- Listen to other people. Climate change is a global problem and a multigenerational one. How climate change and the solutions to it are being lived in the Global South is very different from the discussions in Europe and the United States. Attendees said they appreciated that Reuters IMPACT brought people together from different industries so they could learn from each other rather than sit in their own bubbles. How the younger generation thinks, talks and acts about climate is inspiring more change than older, more established politicians. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children,” said Jake Yamashita, the Ricoh CEO whose first grandchild was born on the first day of the conference.
There were so many excellent and interesting sessions, which you will be able to watch back here (click to the “content” tab for replays). I would particularly recommend the session on what real climate leadership looks like. This is not just for CEOs but for each of us. Listen and be inspired!
Heather.Carpenter @ tr.com