Climate change is one of the most critical challenges facing our planet, with expected impacts on biodiversity, water resources, public health, and agriculture. Beyond the effects on the communities we serve, climate change could also have direct and indirect effects on our business.
As climate protection director, my role has varying responsibilities. One of those is to share our global experience and to gain perspective from others. Sometimes this happens internally, but often it requires leading, learning and sharing on the road.
Climate Leadership Conference
Earlier this month, in Washington, D.C., I participated in the Climate Leadership Conference. Joining 400 leaders from business, government, academia, and civil society, to explore energy- and climate-related solutions, introduce new opportunities, and provide support to leaders taking action on climate protection.
Expert leadership was definitely present. Among the speakers, we heard from Bob Perciasepe the current acting director and deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); plus former U.S. EPA Administrator Bill Reilly; and the likely next EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. She has since been officially nominated by President Obama, now subject to Senate confirmation. Their comments ranged from EPA successes over the years to future challenges and opportunities. They also touched on China’s impact on the global environment and the contribution the natural gas renaissance has played in reducing the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in recent years.
I must say (with slight bias) that one of the
most engaging and productive breakout sessions was “Renewables, PPAs
& On-Site Energy Generation,” where I served as a
panelist, with an audience of over 60 people. I introduced Coca-Cola’s
three pillars of sustainability, and highlighted our successes in our energy efficiency
and climate protection programs. Through the conversation, I shared the best practices underway to decrease our manufacturing operations emissions in developed countries by 9 percent (compared to 2004) as our business continues to grow, and our technology investments to do so-our landfill gas co-generation project in Atlanta being one example. Given that I stayed to answer questions an hour beyond the session end time (consequently, i missed my flight), it's safe to say the audience found our perspective and information of interest.
Another Note “From the Road”
Prior to the Washington event, I began that week in Pocantico Hills, New York, with conservation partner WWF, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and an invitation-only list of leading companies. We gathered together to preview exciting new research for an upcoming report on GHG emissions reductions. Provisionally titled “The 3% Solution” (subject to change - as any yet-to-be published report is), the report will demonstrate the opportunities that U.S. businesses have to profit while reducing emissions at an ambitious level aligned with the consensus science. Stay tuned for more information on this ground-breaking content in April.
This one week on the road equated to years of beneficial information, learned and shared. Now, back at my desk, it’s time to turn this knowledge into action!