Ceres Conference on Climate Change – Enterprise for Youth interns Share their Experiences

By Interns Minnie Yu and Kathy Dao

Through our partnership with Parnassus Investments, two Enterprise for Youth interns were able to attend the Ceres Conference where hundreds of institutional investors, corporate executives, policymakers, and regulators called for the urgent, necessary, and achievable actions we must take today to transform tomorrow. Learn more about their experience below.

The Ceres conference is the most informative and acknowledged event that we have ever joined. There were tons of industries involved like banks, tech industries, electricity industries, entertainment industries, non-profit groups, sustainable industry etc. Many of them are big companies like Google and also many of them are small companies. It was super interesting and fascinating when they shared their unique strategies on reaching the same goal, which is improving sustainability and solving the issue of climate change.

I have listened to different sessions and there are few sessions that really stood out to me. There is a session that talks about pursuing 100% clean electricity by 2035. During this session, two panelists from Google and Southern California Edison discuss their companies’ process to get clean electricity. One of the highlights was the “low carbon fuel initiative”. They are planning on transitioning from natural gas usage to low carbon fuel and aim to substitute at a low cost. Many industries would like to make sure it is affordable to everyone. Kathy and I always think about how we could make change to the world regarding climate change even though we are individuals. Therefore, we are glad that they are making this available to people who want to be involved in this change but have little power to do it. We are looking forward to joining them in the future and succeeding beyond their plans and expectations. 

In Building a Just and Inclusive Economy, we learned that asset owners are calling for inclusion because only 0.9% are owned by women of color. BIPOC asset managers want more capital allocated towards them because existing financial industry due diligence standards result in institutional assets continuing to be managed by the same firms, which are overwhelmingly white.The Due Diligence 2.0 Commitment website shows 9 steps to take to eliminate bias from the due diligence process. 

In All We Can Save, we learned that 165 years ago, Eunice Newton Foote discovered that change in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect the Earth’s temperature. She tested this theory with an air pump, 2 glass cylinders and a thermometer. Another man published a more detailed paper about her work. Unfortunately, he is often credited for her discovery. Climate impacts deepen gender injustices. For instance, droughts and floods can displace families, leaving them impoverished. Increased incidences of violence against women have also been documented in the aftermath of natural disasters. Far too many leaders across the climate sector focus on profit and capitalism leads to excessive amounts of carbon emissions. We need more women leadership in this sector because climate change disproportionately affects them. 

In Best Practices in Corporate Climate Leadership, we learned that carbon emissions limit our lifespans by 1.1 years, affecting us from health issues ranging from strokes to asthma. Carbon offsets are a practical and effective way to fight climate change and encourage the growth of renewable energy. A carbon offset enables a corporation, government, or person to pay someone else to minimize or eliminate a certain amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Electric vehicles produce fewer emissions. Plastics greatly contribute to global warming, from fossil fuel extraction to its incineration, which produces carbon emissions. 

In How the Climate Crisis is Reshaping the Future of Work, we learned that 97% of scientists agree that we must attain a net-zero economy by 2050. Climate change affects our planet and people in so many ways, from heat waves dehydrating laborers in summer to storms and floods damaging infrastructures during natural disasters. We have to electrify our transit sectors and create more environment-friendly buildings. Only 3-4% of workers in the climate sector are unionized. Those in the traditional fossil fuel sector can make more than those in the solar sector and this needs to be changed if we want to move towards cleaner energy sources. 

In this conference, we have learned more about how sustainable and climate change influence industries and their customers and how they work on changing these issues. We were inspired by one of the panelists, who says “the important thing is to drive the change that we want to see and necessary to solve the climate issues” We totally respect and agree with this statement. We believe reaching the goal is not the only thing to do when establishing the policies and strategies but also looking at how these actions could actually drive the change on the climate issues and how that would solve the problems that we have. Also, we should keep researching other new ways during the process of solving climate change.

We like how the Ceres Conference featured so many different sessions with a plethora of experienced speakers in the climate sector who all had something new to say. We would highly recommend this conference for anyone who wants to learn more about how our personal actions and those of corporations and the government contribute to global warming and our next steps to reduce that process.