Executive Vice President
The Future of Energy & Sustainability
1) What trends are helping global companies reduce their carbon footprints domestically and abroad?
Three trends are converging. First, we have a better understanding and awareness of the impacts of climate change, both in coastal cities like New York and globally. Second, companies are increasingly looking beyond the next quarter to determine their climate risk – and their climate opportunities. Third, implementation costs are coming down, especially in the energy sector.
2) When it comes to regulation, how has the landscape of environmental policy changed from ten years ago?
We have made significant progress at every level of government. We have the world’s first-ever global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, which has brought new countries to the global environmental table. Closer to home, cities and states are realizing the power they have to drive the sustainability agenda. When a group of cities decides to switch their light bulbs, they can move the needle in that market. The big question is whether the Trump administration will be successful in dismantling the Obama environmental record on power plants, fuel economy, and science. We won’t know the answer to that question for several years to come.
3) On Earth Day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that annual greenhouse gas emissions in the City are down 14%. What are some of the biggest opportunities for emissions reductions in the next few years, given New York City’s goal to reduce these emissions 80% by 2050?
There is no silver bullet, so we will need to invest sustainability in every sector of the NYC economy. Some opportunities are bigger than others: More than 2/3 of our energy consumption is related to powering, heating, or cooling our buildings. Reducing the carbon footprint of this consumption will create huge opportunities in renewable energy, modernizing our energy grid, building retrofits, and elsewhere. I’ll add that whoever figures out how to install electric vehicle charging on New York City streets or comes up with a plan to update our aging subway system will deserve a medal.
4) Are you seeing companies creating opportunities to take advantage of New York City’s drive to 40×30 and 80×50?
Absolutely! I am seeing so much that gets me excited about NYC’s future sustainability. We have established companies that want to electrify our buses and introduce hydrogen-powered fuel cells, start-ups that want to turn our food waste into renewable energy, technology companies that are using big data and predictive analytics to answer complex environmental questions, and companies that want to improve our resiliency planning, through the creation of new insurance products and green bonds. New York is quickly becoming a global leader in the worldwide movement towards sustainable cities. As a coastal city that is also global center of commerce, there is no better place or moment for this to happen.