You are here

Transatlantic Conference 2021 Day 2: sustainability and climate change

26 Mar 2021
All Committees
Transport, Energy & Climate

The second day of AmCham EU’s all-digital Transatlantic Conference 2021 took place on Thursday, 25 March. Opening remarks from Zeger Vercouteren, Chair, AmCham EU (J&J) and Susan Danger, CEO, AmCham EU emphasised the urgency of the climate change agenda for both sides of the Atlantic, citing the need for all segments of society to accelerate efforts towards Paris Agreement targets to limit global warming.

Back in the game 

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson delivered the day’s opening keynote speech. Reaffirming that climate change is an absolute priority for the EU, she expressed her satisfaction that the US is ‘back in the game’ in reference to the Biden administration re-joining the Paris Agreement. She expressed that commitment to climate neutrality is once again an area of strength and union between the EU and the US. Read the transcript of Commissioner Simson's speech here.

Green is the way to grow

Following Commissioner Simson’s keynote, she was joined by fellow panellists Mark Widmar, CEO, First Solar and Ilham Kadri, CEO, Solvay for a conversation on clean technology moderated by Sasha Vakulina of Euronews. The panellists highlighted a clear sense of urgency to work towards renewable solutions. Leveraging the power of digitalisation will be essential to meet climate targets. Widmar and Kadri both called for policy mechanisms that enable disruption and innovation to tackle climate change. They also underlined the importance of a common dialogue between the EU and the US to ensure convergence on common goals.

The business case for circularity

Next up on the agenda, Emma Watkins, Senior Policy Analyst, Institute for European Environmental Policy was joined by Jacques Playe, Global Head of Packaging and Product Development, L’Oréal and Guillaume Alvarez, Senior Vice President EMEA, Steelcase for a discussion on how businesses are implementing circularity solutions.

Playe and Alvarez identified the scope of initiatives that the private sector is implementing in circularity, including making products refillable, recyclable, reusable and compostable; buying plastics from recycled or bio-based sources; and overall reduction in the quantity of all packaging used in products. They both spoke of the opportunities for further cooperation between the public and private sector, and the need for more joined up legislation with common definitions of circularity and recyclability.

Sprint towards net-zero

The final panel of the day, titled ‘Climate diplomacy and the role of international cooperation’ brought together HE Marc Vanheukelen, 'Hors Classe' Adviser and Ambassador at Large for Climate Diplomacy EEAS; HE Maria O’Brien, Ambassador of The Bahamas to the EU; and David Livingston, Senior Adviser on Climate, US Department of State for a discussion moderated by Simone Tagliapietra, Research Fellow, Bruegel.

David Livingston underscored that this decade is a sprint towards net-zero, in order to keep the 1.5°C target for temperature rise alive. Deep structural advancements are required to reach this. HE O’Brien shone a light on the importance of global cooperation to overcome climate change, given the disproportionate impacts of climate change on small island states such as the Bahamas. HE Vanheukelen agreed that this decade will be pivotal for the attainment of climate ambition. He called for greater cooperation and leadership of the EU and the US to bring the G20 along and increase global climate ambition.

Join us for day 3!

Day three of our Transatlantic Conference 2021 will kick off at 14.00 CET on Friday, 26 March. The discussions will focus on the transatlantic digital economy. Join us on our digital platform or follow the event on Twitter: #Transatlantic2021.