For businesses, taking action on climate change requires moving from strategy to action.
Leaders in the finance and CPG sectors will share how to make actionable outcomes that will tackle climate change.
On April 20, 2021, Insider is hosting a free virtual event at noon ET, featuring speakers from the World Economic Forum and Deloitte.
Click here to register for this free virtual event.
There’s work to be done in the fight against climate change.
Insider’s virtual event “Act to Impact: Keeping our Promises to the Planet,” presented by Deloitte, takes place Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at noon ET, and includes live conversations with Insider editors and leaders from large corporations in the finance and CPG sectors, climate activists and experts, artists and scholars, as well as climate tech changemakers.
Session will discuss actionable and measurable outcomes, advanced sustainable solutions across sectors, how transformative technologies can help take action forward and what part art and society at large play in the climate change movement.
Punit Renjen, CEO, Deloitte Global
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder & Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE and Co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance
Rodger Voorhies, Global Growth & Opportunity Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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On Friday, Bill Gates said that in an effort to cut his carbon consumption, he will fly less and eat synthetic meat more often.
The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist was discussing his efforts tackle climate change in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, CNBC reported.
Gates, a long-term advocate for pandemic preparedness, is once again sounding the alarm for another potentially devastating emergency – climate change.
Last year, Gates issued a stark warning for the world: “Within the next 40 years, increases in global temperatures are projected to raise global mortality rates by the same amount – 14 deaths per 100,000,” he said. “By the end of the century, if emissions growth stays high, climate change could be responsible for 73 extra deaths per 100,000 people. In a lower emissions scenario, the death rate drops to 10 per 100,000.”
In his latest Reddit session, Gates was asked what people could do to help reduce their carbon footprints on the planet. Along with other pieces of advice, he suggested that people should consume less.
Gates was also asked what he was doing to eliminate carbon emissions. “On the personal front, I am doing a lot more,” Gates wrote. “I am driving electric cars. I have solar panels at my house. I eat synthetic meat (some of the time!). I buy green aviation fuel. I pay for direct air capture by Climeworks. I help finance electric heat pumps in low-cost housing to replace natural gas,” CNBC reported.
He also mentioned plans to fly a lot less “now that the pandemic has shown we can get by with less trips.” The pandemic has proven that business travel can be cut down or avoided, given the success of remote-work models. Gates’ company, Microsoft, makes the globally popular Teams app, which gives workers the ability to chat and meet virtually.
The urgency to act comes after Gates warned the public that “by 2060, climate change could be just as deadly as COVID-19, and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly.”
After his $1.9 trillion stimulus package passes, President Joe Biden is setting his sights on what could be an even bigger bill: infrastructure.
And Democrats are already considering ways to go about spending without Republican support.
The president began holding talks on the matter on February 11, when he met with a bipartisan group of four senators to discuss the future of infrastructure funding. On February 17, he called top labor leaders to the Oval Office to hear about their priorities in such a package.
Infrastructure talks continued this Thursday as Biden was joined by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, ranking member Sam Graves, and seven other House members.
In a Thursday interview with CNBC before meeting with Biden, Democratic Rep. DeFazio said he planned to propose the idea of using reconciliation to fund an infrastructure bill and have specific projects within the bill be passed on a bipartisan basis.
“Clearly the president wants to try bipartisan, and I’m willing to try that,” DeFazio, a Democrat, said.
However, in a statement shortly afterward, the Republican Graves said legislation “cannot be a ‘my way or the highway’ approach like last Congress,” referring to previous Democratic legislation.
“First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multitrillion-dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support,” Graves said. “We have to be responsible, and a bill whose cost is not offset will lose Republican support.”
“The President, Vice President, Secretary, and Members of Congress discussed their shared commitment to working across the aisle to build modern and sustainable infrastructure in rural, suburban, and urban areas across the country that create good-paying, union jobs and support the economic recovery,” the White House said in a statement following the meeting.
During his campaign, Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would focus on job creation and climate progress, but Press Secretary Jen Psaki has declined to settle on an exact price tag and said in a February 25 briefing that would come after the stimulus plan is passed.
DeFazio did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Graves emphasized in his statement that he does not want “another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill.” Biden’s campaign proposal on infrastructure heavily focused on climate-related initiatives that would create jobs.
On Wednesday, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the US a C-minus grade on its four year infrastructure report card and said the country needs $2.8 trillion in national road and rail transportation in the coming decade.
After the White House meeting, DeFazio declined to disclose specifics but told reporters the conversation topics included how to pay for the bill.
“He [Biden] wants to move as quickly as possible,” DeFazio said. “He wants it to be very big and he feels that this is the key to the recovery package.”
President-elect Joe Biden introduced what he called a “barrier-busting” climate and energy team Saturday, vowing to create millions of union jobs and reposition the US as a leader in the global fight against climate change.
“We have no time to waste,” Biden said during a press briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. “Just like we need to be a unified nation to respond to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.”
Leading that response will be a team of pro-climate heavyweights who include a number of firsts.
Among Biden’s top picks is Gina McCarthy, who helmed the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Barack Obama. She’ll head a new White House office focused on climate policy.
There, she’ll be able to reach across cabinets to advance a unified domestic strategy.
“Defeating this threat is the fight of our lifetimes,” McCarthy, who’s currently the CEO of the Natural Resources Dense Council, an environmental nonprofit, said during the briefing. “But the opportunities to act on climate change right now fill me with incredible optimism.”
She’ll work in parallel with former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Biden tapped to be his international climate czar. Ali Zaidi, who currently serves as the deputy secretary for energy and environment for New York State, will be McCarthy’s deputy.
Biden also introduced former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his pick for Energy Secretary, and environmental regulator Michael Regan of North Carolina, whom he nominated to run the EPA – the office most central to his climate-change agenda.
If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to lead the EPA.
There are other firsts, too.
During the briefing, Biden introduced Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, whom he nominated to lead the Interior Department. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll be the first Native American to lead the department – and the first to lead any cabinet-level agency – which oversees about 500 million acres of public lands. Haaland was a cosponsor of the Green New Deal.
Biden also named longtime environmental attorney Brenda Mallory as the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed she’d be the first Black person to assume the role.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A monumental challenge ahead
“So many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once,” Biden said during the briefing.
Americans aren’t just facing a pandemic, he said, but symptoms of climate change like superstorms, forest fires, and floods. His solution is to slash emissions to net-zero by 2050 – through the rollout of electric cars, adding more renewable energy to the grid, and improving the efficiency of buildings – while creating high-paying jobs.
To be clear, that is an ambitious task, and one that will prove even more challenging should the government remain divided. Experts say the administration will likely focus their efforts initially on reversing many of Trump’s rollbacks, largely through executive orders.
“The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked big oil companies over American workers,” Biden said. “Our administration will not only bring those standards back. We’ll set new ambitious standards. “
President-elect Joe Biden appeared to acknowledge environmental “activists” in his statement commemorating the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement but did not mention the Green New Deal.
Biden, in the statement released Saturday, reaffirmed that the US “will rejoin the Paris Agreement” when he steps into office and identified goals to address climate change and environmental issues, including achieving “net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”
“We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power,” the statement said.
Although his statement referred to “activists,” Biden did not mention the Green New Deal, which has been rallied by young climate activists like those in the Sunrise Movement. The group last month protested alongside Ocasio-Cortez and Markey in front of the DNC headquarters pushing for the incoming Biden administration to keep his commitment to address climate change, The Guardian reported.
A spokesperson for the Biden-Harris transition team did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Prior to the election, Biden stopped short of fully adopting the “Green New Deal,” and instead noted in his plan for climate change that “the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” Meanwhile, the “Biden-Harris plan” for climate change, shared on the Biden-Harris transition website, also makes no note of the Green New Deal.
“Some elements have a good chance of passing,” Ocasio-Cortez said via her Instagram. “Others are a toss up (like ending fossil fuel subsidies) and others almost definitely won’t (for example GND makes a nod to Medicare for All.)”
Meanwhile, depending on the outcome of the upcoming Georgia senate runoffs, Biden could be the first president since George H.W. Bush to step into office without his party controlling both chambers of Congress. Progressive climate activists have expressed skepticism that this may pose a barrier to implementing Biden’s climate agenda, Business Insider’s Eliza Relman reported.
Without that, the upper chamber would stay under GOP control, and “we don’t have the power of the purse in the same way,” a progressive climate activist told Business Insider.