Climate Week NYC brings business leaders together to discuss a sustainable future and what it takes to get it done. Our expert Diego Ibarra, Managing Director of Sustainability Solutions for Americas at ENGIE Impact sits down with Angela Barranco from Climate Week NYC to address key trends and questions around making sustainability happen today.
Transcript has been edited for clarity
Angela: Hello and welcome to the climate week NYC interview series sustainability shorts. Today we're lucky to be joined by Diego Ibarra, Managing Director of Americas for ENGIE Impact. Such a pleasure to have you with us.
Diego: Thank you. A pleasure to be here.
Angela: Let's jump into our first question. The theme for Climate Week in New York City this year is getting it done. What does this mean to you and to ENGIE Impact?
Diego: Getting it done for us is really about transforming intention into action through significant strides toward a sustainable future. Our research shows that there's still a significant gap between ambitions and implementing those plans. Complexity is really holding us back from moving to execution and working through that complexity is really what drives us. Bridging that gap will be the key to solving the significant challenge that is climate change. At ENGIE Impact we do that by enabling and accelerating the decarbonization transformation of large organizations. We do that by supporting these organizations by setting up their strategy and their actionable roadmaps all the way to implementing those plans at speed and at scale. We are already getting it done for 25% of fortune 500 companies, making sustainability happen today.
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Angela: This is a trend we are seeing in so many places. Despite so much change in climate leadership, we're still falling short on targets. How do we as climate leaders need to change, and what is ENGIE Impact doing to demonstrate this?
Diego: Things are changing. Our first step is to recognize that there is significant change happening today. We know that 153 countries are strengthening or enacting emissions targets. 137 countries recently pledged to end deforestation by 2030. And over 100 countries are committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. This is significant. However, we know that setting goals and announcing commitments makes headlines but doesn’t always translate into action. So business leaders need to first understand a key message which is delaying action today only makes it harder to take action tomorrow and more expensive. So the cost of not acting today is huge.
Every part of society has a role to play. Business leaders need to courageously drive behavioral change, and not wait for the next extreme weather event to trigger that awareness and motivation to act. They also need to do small changes like ensuring that carbon is constantly included in their day-to-day decision-making. On the government side, they have a huge role to play. This includes enacting regulations that limit emissions and setting a clear path on how we will phase out carbon-heavy technologies. At the individual level, we don’t only need to change our behavior, we have the power to choose and convey our priorities to different businesses through the brands we choose. At ENGIE Impact we are not only helping large organizations drive this complexity, but we are also walking the walk. I'm happy to share that we have achieved our goal of being carbon negative.
Angela: That’s amazing. Another challenge is the younger people who are participating in this climate movement are skeptical of the ability of companies to stick to these commitments. What would be your message to younger people who are watching this today who might be in that camp?
Diego: I would start by reaffirming that statement. I think business leaders and all of us need to understand that is a fact. For example, studies show that 60% of young people are extremely concerned about climate change. Recognizing that is the first step for all of us. My message to young people is simple—keep the pressure on. Continue to have a voice in the conversation. Market forces and business imperatives keep sustainability as an unavoidable priority today in decision-making. But the gap between ambitions and actions is still significant and, in that regard, young people have a huge role to play. Not only can they convey to the government to continue enacting legislation that will help companies be more accountable and push for phasing out of carbon-heavy technologies. Also, as consumers, they can drive change by mindful choices in brands that they want to do business with. And lastly, these young people are climbing the corporate ladder very quickly and having more influence in the day-to-day decisions of companies. It's important that they keep conveying these priorities. The only way we are going to solve this challenge is if all of us are aligned and doing our part.
Angela: Before we close, can you tell us a little bit more about how people can find out more details about what you're doing at ENGIE Impact?
Diego: If you are joining us at Climate Week in New York, Catherine MacGregor, our group CEO will be at the opening ceremony. Our team will be hosting a roundtable, so please approach us and we'll be happy to have a conversation. For those joining us remotely, you can engage with us through the Climate Week Hub website or through social media, where you will be able to find other examples of how we've been successful at supporting our clients.
Angela: Thank you.
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