Why businesses, states and cities must collaborate on climate

When it comes to dealing with climate and energy challenges, you often get the sense that the right people aren’t talking to one another.

Energy policies at different levels of government aren’t always coordinated. How one business, state or city is reducing greenhouse gases or planning for climate impacts may not be well understood or even known outside its area or industry.

The sustainability director for the city of Philadelphia, Katherine Gajewski, expressed this feeling during a recent C2ES panel discussion, saying there’s almost “no alignment” on climate and energy issues.

We hear you, Katherine. And we agree.

That’s why C2ES is launching a major new initiative – the C2ES Solutions Forum — to bring together businesses, states, and cities to expand clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen resilience to climate change impacts.

Over the next two years, these key players will join us in a series of public and private forums around the country to explore critical, cross-cutting issues, develop collaborative approaches, and create a set of practical solutions that we can broadly share.

As we’ve talked to business, state and city leaders across the country, it became clear that a platform for communication and collaboration on climate and energy issues was needed.

State leaders told us they want to hear from businesses about ways to cost-effectively reduce emissions as they work on their Clean Power Plan implementation.

City leaders said they often talk to one another, but not always with states and businesses about efforts to improve energy efficiency or prepare for extreme weather.

Business leaders told us they have ideas for financing clean power and efficiency they’d like to share with cities and states.

After a series of public discussions in Washington and consultation with a broad group of stakeholders, we chose to focus on three principal challenges that would benefit most from closer collaboration:

  • Market Approaches to Reducing Emissions. States have tremendous flexibility to implement the new federal Clean Power Plan. Many are weighing market-based approaches as a cost-effective way to cut emissions, incentivize renewables and efficiency, drive technological innovation, and promote interstate cooperation. We’ve already started exploring questions that need to be addressed.
  • Innovative Climate Finance. Stronger investment in energy infrastructure, clean energy technology, efficiency, and resilience is critical. States and cities are seeking innovative finance mechanisms to leverage limited public dollars to mobilize more private sector investment. C2ES will examine innovative financing mechanisms that can help at workshop early next year in Seattle.
  • Strengthening Resilience. Extreme weather and other climate impacts are already imposing significant costs on companies and communities. Many states, cities and businesses are assessing their climate risks, but not always together. Creating venues for sharing knowledge and resources is essential. Starting with a Nov. 5 workshop in Detroit, C2ES will identify ways to overcome barriers to stronger collaboration on resilience.

The obstacles to progress are real and complex. But solutions do exist.

And, as we heard from Martha Rudolph, Director of Environmental Programs, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: “When ideas and experiences are shared and barriers are addressed collaboratively, success will follow.”

We look forward to sharing insights and recommendations from this initiative in the months ahead, as we work toward a clean energy economy and resilient communities—together.