New York Climate Week

Takeaways from New York Climate Week

This was my first New York Climate Week, and it certainly was a lot to take in! It was great to connect with colleagues new and old to discuss how we can roll up our sleeves, dig in, and get to work on reinvigorating the carbon market. Here are a few takeaways from several panels I participated in (there were many more exciting conversations on the sidelines as well!):

  • Helping corporations engage. Given recent media criticism of offsets, a rapidly evolving landscape of standards and certifiers, and an ever expanding range of carbon offsetting and removal approaches, there’s no doubt the voluntary carbon market has been a confusing one for buyers lately. This uncertainty has kept many buyers on the sidelines, right when we need corporate investment in climate change the most.
    • How we can support buyers navigating the current carbon landscape was a theme of virtually every conversation I had, and the focus of many excellent discussions and panels throughout the week. I am particularly excited about the World Economic Forum’s new playbook for corporate action: this is an excellent, practical guide for how private investment can help scale high integrity carbon markets. 
  • Buyers need more clarity. Many corporations are stalling out on promises to cut emissions. If we’re going to keep the private sector moving it’s clear we’re going to need a lot more than bold statements from policymakers.
    • In particular, the community needs much more clarity on the role of carbon credits in the corporate net zero journey. Even as companies are struggling to implement their emissions reductions plans, they are avoiding carbon markets, in large part due to confusion over when and how credits can be applied against their sustainability targets. And this is the wrong answer, because in a voluntary market organizations always have the option to do nothing. Organizations responsible for setting corporate emissions standards – like SBTi and VCMI – need to provide more guidance on how companies can use all of the tools available to them, starting with responsible use of carbon credits.
  • Nature: from aspiration to action. The budding nature market, and particularly the launch of the new Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework, was one of the hottest topics at New York Climate Week. Biodiversity, water, and other ecosystem services have always been a part of the sustainability discussion, but for the first time last week I felt like we were talking about addressing these in the present rather than far off in the future. In the coming months companies will begin integrating the TNFD framework into their sustainability plans, and I’m excited to see where that will lead in terms of new investments in protecting and restoring natural ecosystems. One key outcome of this will be a continuation of the work to funnel finance from the Global North to the Global South, where finance is most desperately needed to assist with the net zero transition.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of a busy and exciting week. Keep an eye on the Rubicon Carbon blog for more on these and other topics related to carbon markets and corporate sustainability.





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