ASHEVILLE – Asheville’s climate innovation center, The Collider, is set to be the central hub of activity this week and next week as it presents ClimateCon 2018 which will be composed by The Climate City Experience, The Business of Climate Forum, and a Summit for Emerging Climate Leaders, anticipating nearly 3,000 points of engagement during the 10-day city saturation.
Durham, meanwhile, will be the site for another climae-and-business event next week.
“Addressing climate change is the biggest, most transformational market opportunity since the Internet,” said Stacy Swann, founding partner of Climate Finance Advisors, and one of the speakers at the event. “There are so many ways to invest or make investments resilient, the market opportunities are seemingly endless.”
Action begins Friday, as conference organizers welcome folks to “The Climate City,” an aspirational moniker adopted by researchers, entrepreneurs, and climate scientists. Throughout the ten days that follow, local community members and out-of-towners are invited to participate in dozens of coordinated activities that highlight the city’s artists, brewers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and students.
More than 125 students and young professionals are expected to attend the one-day Summit for Emerging Climate Leaders on Monday, March 19, where speakers from NASA, NOAA, Climate Interactive, and The Climate Listening Project will share knowledge, bridge connections, and help develop and prepare the next generation of leaders at The Collider’s facility near the heart of downtown Asheville.
“In the morning session, students will hear from climate professionals who represent a variety of the pathways students could take from climate communication to climate research,” said Megan Robinson, executive director of The Collider. “In the afternoon, students will be able to creatively think about solving climate change with a group activity and pitch competition.” Several North Carolina colleges and universities have partnered with The Collider to provide sponsored student registrations, as has the Sierra Club, said Robinson.
Organizers also anticipate more than 125 business leaders from across the state, region, and country to descend on Asheville for The Business of Climate Forum, starting the evening of Monday, March 19.
The centerpiece of ClimateCon 2018, The Business of Climate Forum provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs and forward-thinking organizations to dig into the business implications of climate science, the innovations taking place in climate-focused startups and large organizations, and hear from climate leaders like Greg Lowe, global head of resilience and sustainability at Aon, John Frey, senior technologist and sustainability strategist at Hewlett Packard, and Erin Meezan, chief sustainability officer at Interface, Inc.
The market for data-driven climate solutions has evolved dramatically in the past five years, said Swann, and represents the next frontier in the effort to address climate change. “Data, AI, and information will make our decisions about investing in resilience easier, and it will open up a whole new range of sustainable opportunities.”
Organizers just announced the addition of a new panel, We Are Still In, which will focus on a broad coalition of businesses, local and state government officials, tribes, and higher education institutions that supports climate action. This panel and the entire event, said Robinson, “will bring this coalition to the regional level, convening key regional leaders from cities, business, state government and academia for a discussion on how they can best collaborate to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy in North Carolina and surrounding states.”
Global summit in Durham
In Durham, a group of organizers based out of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are piloting a global summit for MBA students. ClimateCAP: The Global Summit on Climate, Capital, & Business, will be held on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 with the intention of helping future business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors understand the business implications of climate change.
“There is money to be made and lost,” said Katie Kross, managing director at the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “Some companies will face increased risks from climate change impacts, while others will gain competitive advantage by capitalizing on opportunities to adapt and innovate.”
Sixteen other leading business schools will send MBA candidates to the event. In total, organizers anticipate more than 150 students and 75 speakers, faculty members, and other industry professionals, including executives from JP Morgan Chase, Nike, Goldman Sachs, Kellogg Company, Morgan Stanley, Levi Strauss, and Statoil.
“We’re beginning to see climate change impacts before us with increasing frequency,” said Kross, “Investors are paying more attention.” When considering the lack of federal action on climate policy, interest from cities, states, universities, and individual consumers continues to propel businesses to invest in understanding climate change and the latest climate science research to move forward action on the global climate, said Kross.