Updated: Nov 21
We can. We will. That was the theme of this year’s New York City Climate Week, which took place in September. Annually, the UN and the City Council of New York collaborate to create an event that brings people worldwide to discuss the Climate Crisis and how to solve it. This year, the event was bigger than ever, with over 550 in-person events around New York City, and virtual sessions of key parts. Let’s walk through Climate Week this year and what we want it to be in the future.
What happened this year?
New York Climate Week grows in importance as the Climate Crisis looms over us all. This year, the world has been ravaged by fires, storms, earthquakes, and other climate-related disasters. While some progress was made, there’s still a lot more that we need to do. Here are some of the highlights this year:
Youth Engagement: The young generation isn’t the one that’s caused the world's climate problems, but we are the ones who have to live in it. Youth need to be a part of the conversation and the solution. This year, UNFCCC’s YOUNGCO members got together to discuss what they’ve achieved, and the tools they need to make more progress. They also discussed this year's COP, and how youth can engage there. If interested, you can apply for yourself or your youth-centered organization to join YOUNGCO.
Climate Group also discussed eco-anxiety, an ever increasing mental side-effect of the Climate Crisis. Eco-anxiety is, as the name suggests, fear and anxiety surrounding the fragile ecosystem we live in. But, as a survey Climate Group conducted, optimism, resilience, and reality are setting in where anxiety once was, especially in our Generation.
A lot of the events surrounding youth involvement were centered around what we as young people can give to fixing the Climate Crisis. But, a lot of the events also discussed what we as a generation need to move forward, from our leaders, from the world, and from each other.
Individual Orginizations: A lot of big businesses and companies were called out this Climate Week for not stepping up. While calling people out doesn’t change anything, it hopefully incentivises them to make the change they need to. It also lets consumers know who is making the products they consume, and how. Reports from Climate Group showed that big tech companies aren’t doing much to tackle misinformation about climate.
Companies, businesses, and governments made a lot of promises during Climate Week. Governor Newsom announced that California is suing fossil fuel companies, and he talked about a bill to compel companies to disclose emmisions. L’Oréal Group announced a 15 million euro endowment fund for communities at risk of disaster. Volvo made a pledge to get rid of all diesel production by early next year, and that they plan to be an all-electric car company sometime in the future. A promise isn’t action, but hopefully it will lead to some.
What needs to happen?
Sticking to their Word: In 2009 at COP15, wealthy developed nations pledged to donate 100 billion USD per year by 2020. In 2011 at COP17, they extended their pledge to 2025. They haven’t been able to meet their goal. We can’t have people making big promises and not following through. Yes, intent and making intent clear is an important step, but it’s only the first. It is people like you and me who need to hold big orginizations accountable for the promises they make, because they are making those promises to us. We need actions, not words.
Everyone, everywhere: Climate Week is gaining more popularity and traction, but it’s still not as big or as involved as one would hope. Part of the reason is the nature of the event. Less like a conference, Climate Week is more like a bunch of side events and meetings happening over the course of a week. Without structure and orginization, Climate Week loses it’s impact, because there’s so many things going on at once. Hopefully, Climate Week can get more involvement from a variety of people, and grow to have a greater impact while retaining it’s spirit and freedom.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding NYC Climate Week, but it has the potential to be a powerful event where history and change is made. This year, a lot of meaningful conversations were exchanged, information was spread, problems were brought to the light, and solutions began to slowly form. As we move on from NYC Climate Week, Stolckholm’s Water Week, and the upcoming COP28, do your best to educate yourself about these events, because a lot of decisions concerning us are made, and new information about the world we live in comes to the light.