GREEN
09/22/2011 11:12 am ET Updated Nov 21, 2011

At NYC Climate Week, Leaders Launch Clean Revolution

Doing anything to fight man-made climate change is better than doing nothing at all.

This was the message projected by some of the world's most influential leaders -- including Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- as they launched a new campaign to curb worldwide greenhouse gas emissions at the kick off of Climate Week in New York City.

The campaign, dubbed the Clean Revolution, focuses on speeding up the development of clean technologies while creating new jobs and strengthening economic growth, as leaders keep in mind that by the year 2050, scientists predict the world will have to support 9 billion people, according to the group's website.

"Over the past year, Americans have had a taste of what climate change may mean for our city. We have had the rainiest day and the rainiest month ever. A tornado, a hurricane and the snowiest January on record and 16 blistering 90-degree plus day in this past July and early August," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the Monday launch. "Perhaps such extreme weather events are merely coincidental, or perhaps they're a warning of what the future holds."

While many hope for climate change to be addressed at a federal level, Bloomberg said it is up to states and cities to act on their own in the meantime. The city is "well on its way" to meeting the goals it signed onto as part of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of cities around the world committed to addressing climate change locally, Bloomberg added. His PlaNYC initiative focuses on reducing the city's carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030.

"For instance, we are on our way to planting half a million new trees. We have also passed our landmark green buildings law that will create up to 17,000 new jobs for New Yorkers," he said.

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, a group backing Climate Revolution, said his organization wanted to see "a low carbon, high opportunity world."

"There are very few people that deny climate change," he told The Huffington Post. "Even if you're not the sort of person that is convinced by the evidence, or you are a denier of climate change, we are providing strategies that make sense."

"We are not trying to make a moral argument here. It is possible to reduce our carbon footprint and increase profit," he added.

Despite there not being mandatory global or national policies for companies to reduce their carbon footprint, nearly two thirds of S&P 500 companies have recognized the benefits of doing so, according to a new Carbon Disclosure Project report.

Kathy Nieland, a sustainability expert at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, told HuffPost that companies are recognizing that they can ramp up their competitiveness by addressing climate change.

"If you think about it, if you use less energy you can reduce the cost of production. Consumers pick the product they believe is better for the environment, and there are generational differences. Companies are concerned with perception and reputation. When companies look into sourcing, or the outlook for their production, they realize it is imperative to look at the environment and the true limitations we have on our resources," Nieland said.

She said companies were looking at ways to lower the impact of their supply chain, and invest in renewable energy or nuclear power.

Jack Ehnes, CEO of the North American public pension fund CalSTRS, said in a press release: “We recognize the growing risk to our investment portfolio that carbon emissions present. In today’s economic environment, there is strategic advantage to addressing climate risk. Companies that measure their carbon emission exposure are better positioned to respond to changing regulatory requirements and to take advantage of efficiency opportunities that can increase shareholder value."

At the NYC Climate Week launch, Tony Blair spoke about the importance of businesses and industry working at different levels with each other to combat the effects of climate change:

"We need to mobilize the business community, not merely in the sense of individual businesses taking action, trying to behave more responsible vis-à-vis the environment. But also, business and industry working within a framework set at international, national and sub-national levels, which is incentivizing the development of the science and technology, which is in the end, the only way that this is going to be resolved."

* * * * *