Mark Kenber (The Climate Group): “Innovation is at the core of the Clean Revolution”

 The Climate Group, is globally recognized for its exceptional impact on the climate debate, and respected as one of the world’s most influential non-profits. We have met with Mark Kenber, CEO of the UK branch.

 The Climate Group, is globally recognized for its exceptional impact on the climate debate, and respected as one of the world’s most influential non-profits. We have met with Mark Kenber, CEO of the UK branch.

Leaders League. 2014 was the 10th anniversary of the Climate Group. What changes have you witnessed over this decade? What were the most important milestones?

Mark Kenber. In the first year of our existence, we released the ‘Carbon Down, Profits Up’ report – this report reviewed the measures being undertaken worldwide by corporations and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and quantifies the financial benefits achieved. Five corporations -- DuPont, Alcan Inc., BT Group PLC, IBM and Norske Canada -- saved a combined $5.5 billion and each lowered their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% through improved energy efficiency, fuel switching and reduced waste output.

Also in 2005, we started our States and Regions Alliance. Now, our Climate Group States & Regions brings together 27 sub-national governments from around the world in a powerful, high-profile network that shares expertise demonstrates impact and influences the international climate dialogue. Our members represent some of the most economically powerful regions in the world and include governments from across Europe, the Americas, South Asia, Australia and Africa. States & Regions members collectively account for 313 million people, 11% of global GDP and 2.3 Gigatons CO2e. States and regional governments are setting standards for impactful global climate action.

We also launched a report on China’s Clean Revolution in 2008, and in the same year, five major financial institutions (BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, F&C Investments, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Swiss Re) signed our Climate Principles, working to embed an understanding of climate change, and the solutions to it, into their research, asset management, banking, insurance and reinsurance.

In 2009 we launched the first Climate Week NYC – bringing together political and business leaders, with speeches from Ban Ki-Moon, Hugh Jackman and Tony Blair. The 2014 edition of Climate Week New York City brought together speakers such as Peter Agnefjäll, CEO of IKEA, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Climate Week NYC 2014 generated a record amount of media coverage with more than 1,300 news stories reaching an estimated 1 billion people across 40 countries. On social media too, we hit more than 150 million impressions on Twitter – a 38-fold increase on last year.

In recent years, we introduced even more programs in which we bring together business and governments, to show that a low carbon economy is a realistic and profitable goal.

Leaders League. How does the Climate Group work hand-in-hand with technology pioneers to achieve the ‘clean revolution’? Can you give us practical examples?

M. K. A very practical and recent example is the RE100 campaign: companies going for 100% on renewable energy by 2020. Amongst the 15+ members we started with are technology related companies like Philips, SAP, KPN and BT Group, but also IKEA, Nestle and H&M. By demonstrating the global business benefits of going ‘100% renewable’ RE100 will help to create a tipping point for renewable power.

Another recent example is the Bijli project, made possible with principal funding from our partner the Dutch Postcode Lottery: Bijli (Hindi for electricity) will bring clean energy to 50.000 people in three states in India, solar powered LED lighting and energy. In this project we work together with local Indian partners as well as international partners such as SunSaluter, an award winning company providing highly efficient solar panel systems. The Bijli project will not only directly light up tens of thousands of homes in India, it will also lead the way to even more clean technology in India and beyond, by creating an investment pool for clean energy.

Leaders League. For you, how does innovation take part in the ‘clean revolution’?

M. K. Innovation is at the core of the Clean Revolution. It’s true we already have a lot of the solutions we need to address climate change. But we need more. We need clean technologies to continue to get better and cheaper. We need business models that bring solutions to new markets. And we need new policies that address the opportunities and challenges that a Clean Revolution gives rise to.

That’s what our States & Regions Policy Innovation Program is about. These sub-national governments are dealing with issues that many national governments haven’t even begun to think about yet. They are developing a new generation of climate policies to meet the challenges of tomorrow – and we want to make sure that other governments know what is going on, and have the opportunity to learn from the leaders and pioneers.

Leaders League. What are the key issues at stake in energy and GreenTech today and what are your views on the new trends emerging lately?

M. K. Renewables are no longer seen as a fringe energy technology, either by an ever increasing number of consumers as well as main stream investors. The desirability of Tesla’s cars is testimony to the fact that clean technologies are now being seen as mainstream products. Household explosion in use of solar panels in many parts of the world and the rapid shift to LED lighting are other examples.

The key issue at stake is whether or not we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change and what happens in the energy sector this decade and through to 2050 is critical. Investment decisions made today and in the next few years will decide whether we lock ourselves into a high or low carbon energy systems. A high carbon system is not compatible with a safe climate, so the question is not whether we create a low carbon one, but how do we do it quickly enough and at least cost.

Read more on Energy & Greentech leaders in our next Innovation-Technology & Intellectual Property report to be published in April 2015.

E. S.


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