Climate & Sustainability

As societies grapple with climate change, innovators and pioneers are making bold commitments and investments today & but will it be enough?

Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor of Eurasia Group, discusses reasons the rapid global response to climate change warrants optimism on UNGA In 60 Seconds.

There's a lot of doom and gloom out there about climate change. Can you give me a reason to be optimistic?

I'm going to say something you don't hear set very often when it comes to climate change. You should be an optimist. You should be a skeptical optimist, but an optimist nonetheless. Let me explain what I mean. We are scaling up climate solutions faster than even the most ardent among us thought possible a decade ago. Consider this. In 2010, about half of US electricity was generated from coal. This year less than 20% will be, and it's trending towards zero at increasing velocity.

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On September 16, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts on climate and sustainability to address the future of "net zero" in a livestream panel.

Our panel for the discussion on Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action included:

  • Julia Pyper, host and producer of the Political Climate podcast (moderator)
  • Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor, Eurasia Group
  • Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft
  • Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Mark Carney, Finance Adviser to the UK Prime Minister for COP 26 and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance

Select quotes from our panelists:

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Fires. Floods. Hurricanes. Heatwaves.

It can be easy to feel helpless in the face of planetary disruption, particularly with a global pandemic that is — understandably — distracting many from the generational challenge of climate change. But there is an enormous transformational opportunity at hand.

The need to build back after COVID-19 offers an opportunity to work toward cleaner and more resilient societies that can grow with fewer emissions, create broadly shared opportunities in a low-carbon economy, and heal the planet. Governments are spending massively to stimulate the economy, including forms of green stimulus, and many around the world are demanding that we don't just re-build, but build back better. This is a task that no single country can bear on its own; indeed, addressing climate change and sustainability challenges is the ultimate focal point for reimagining multilateralism in the 21st century. It requires that companies and governments take chances, invest and innovate, and share their learnings with the world. But it also requires global cooperation, including new coalitions of unconventional partners that each hold one part of a complex solution.

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Over the past 40 years, the economic gap between the world's richest and poorest countries and peoples has narrowed sharply. Goods, services, and people began to cross borders at greater velocity, creating opportunities for people to live healthier, more secure, and more prosperous lives. Billions rose out of poverty.

Here's the catch: all that beneficial economic activity has also sharply increased the use of fossil fuels and the amount of carbon that's reaching the atmosphere. Life on earth remains possible only because carbon dioxide in our atmosphere captures enough heat from the sun to sustain us while deflecting enough extra heat into space to keep us from burning up. That's the "natural greenhouse effect."

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What does "net zero" mean, and how can companies, and perhaps even governments, achieve neutral carbon emissions? Climate change is a problem that impacts far more than weather systems—it has a human toll, one that is rapidly increasing. Microsoft and Eurasia Group have teamed up with GZERO Media to talk about real solutions to one of the biggest crises of our time.

Under the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement, signatory countries agreed to make their own commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions. At next year's UN climate change conference in Glasgow, nations will assess progress to date and (possibly) make bolder commitments, given technological progress and the mounting urgency to take climate action. But for now, only a handful of countries are on pace to limit warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels — let alone to meet the 1.5°C target that most scientists believe will help us avoid heaviest climate impact. A small group of intrepid governments aim to achieve "net zero" emissions in coming decades. We look at how certain nations are performing on climate action, and highlight those with plans to reach net zero.

On Wednesday, September 16th, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — kicks off a series of livestream discussions about the most important issues facing the 75th UN General Assembly. The first event, Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action, will consider how we get to net zero emissions.

Our panel will be moderated by Julia Pyper, host and producer of the Political Climate podcast, and will include Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor, Eurasia Group; Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft; Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University; and Mark Carney, Finance Adviser to the UK Prime Minister for COP 26 and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

On the day of the event, visit https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream to view the livestream presentation.

Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action: Wednesday, September 16th, 12:30p ET/9:30a PT/5:30p BST

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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This content is brought to you by our 2020 UN General Assembly partner, Microsoft.

Watch UN Innovation Room conversations weekly on Thursdays at 9 am EDT: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream/

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Panel on Oct. 7th to discuss digital inclusion in the workforce

Teaching digital skills could empower the workforce the 21st century needs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — will present a live panel discussion, "Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs," about the acceleration of digitalization, the changing workforce, and the need for digital access for all.

The conversation will be moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel includes:

  • Kate Behncken, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
  • Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly
  • Parag Mehta, Executive Director and Sr Vice President, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth
  • Dominique Hyde, Director External Relations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
Also featured: a special appearance by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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During the coronavirus pandemic, cyberattacks have surged, according to watchdogs. This isn't just Zoom-bombing or scams. It's also a wave of schemes, likely by national intelligence agencies, meant to steal information about the development and production of vaccines. Attacks on the World Health Organization soared five-fold early in the pandemic.

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