Chris Anderson and Christiana Figueres announce Countdown to an audience in New York City.
TED has become famous for its tagline: Ideas Worth Spreading. Now, it may be updated to Ideas Worth Investing in as the non-profit announced a new initiative to help solve climate change-related problems last week.
TED, YouTube, The Global Covenant of Mayors, and Future Stewards with Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the former Prime Minister of Bhutan revealed Countdown — a gathering scheduled for next year where TED wants to facilitate a plan of action on climate-related matters.
From October 6 to 9, a summit of 1,000 global climate leaders representing a cross-section of nations, businesses, cities and citizens will gather in Bergen, Norway, a gateway to pristine fjord country. The months leading up to the Countdown summit will involve preparation by climate experts, policy makers, visionary business leaders, and thousands of local organizers who will discuss, debate, and create a strategy with five key questions in mind, according to TED:
1. How rapidly can we move to 100% clean energy?
2. How can we re-engineer the stuff that surrounds us?
3. How do we transform the ways we move?
4. How can we spark a worldwide shift to healthier food systems?
5. How extensively can we re-green the earth?
Countdown is designed to amplify the work already being done by climate leaders, not recreate the wheel. Proposals have already been offered by more than 100 authorities on climate issues and a new application form will be rolled out in the coming weeks, inviting others to share their ideas and solutions.
“If we are to address the climate crisis, it’s going to take all of us. But we need to break out of our silos, and work with each other unique ways,” said Chris Anderson, journalist turned Head of TED, at Countdown’s launch this past Wednesday in New York City.
Former Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA and now co-chair of the We Mean Business coalition board Steve Howard is one of the key supporters behind Countdown and spoke to the audience via telecast. “TED Climate Countdown is movement building…climate change is a collection action challenge, and we need to realize we can all play our part.”
With large, multinational businesses facing scrutiny from media and the public on their carbon footprint, the business community has to be a part of the solution here. Howard argues that it’s possible for even large companies, like IKEA, to pivot if the leadership is there.
“Sustainability and climate change are re-shaping the business landscape. The critical thing is to embrace change and unlock value,” he said in an interview from the Netherlands. “When you are clear about your future direction, with clear targets and goals, and you align people and resources behind it you can drive innovation and change with real pace. We can see climate action getting to scale: more than 1000 leading companies have made bold commitments such as science-based targets in line with the Paris Climate agreement or 100% renewable energy, just as part of the We Mean Business Coalition. If 1000 companies can then every company can.”
So could this global platform finally take rhetoric and catapult it into action? Anderson aims to do that just, by putting the ideas in front of an audience that can green-light them quickly and at scale.