The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be marked by tens of thousands of events in every country in the world. Arizona Forward, Arizona State University, the City of Phoenix, Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, Arizona Sustainability Alliance and Green Living Magazine have come together for this milestone occasion to present EarthArizona 2020.
EarthArizona 2020 is an all-day business summit with sessions and workshops designed to address important topics tailored to Arizona-specific climate change risks such as extreme heat, drought, declining air quality and impacts to human health. The summit will assess the status of Arizona today, evaluate strategies and determine action steps for the future.
Now is the time to take climate action. Arizona is poised to take a proactive approach to potential climate change risks. Stakeholders agree that major changes can take place at the local level. All of us can play a role: large and small business, municipalities, state government, nonprofits, educational institutions, policy makers and others. The next generation is relying on us to rise to the challenge to secure Arizona's economic future and quality of life.
OPENING RECEPTION 9:00 a.m.
Continental breakfast, networking and registration
MORNING DISCUSSION 10:00 to 12:30 p.m.
10:00 a.m. Welcome
Special Presentation On the Significance of Earth Day from Tia Nelson
A panel of industry leaders and experts will address current local and national issues
and solutions related to climate change and the role of Arizona business, cities and counties.
- The role federal policy plays in greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilience across the U.S. economy
- Current position of the nation and Arizona as it relates to clean energy and the economics surrounding it
- Water supply strategies for long-term supplies as the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) expires
- Investment portfolios related to climate change and sustainability and the tie to corporations and business
12:30 p.m. Lunch
AFTERNOON SESSIONS 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The afternoon will consist of two time periods that will host solution-based sessions.
Attendees will have the opportunity to attend one session per time period.
Signing up in advance for sessions upon event registration is encouraged to ensure availability of seating.
Space may be limited.
TIME PERIOD ONE: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
A Clean Energy Economy
Reducing energy consumption and investing in renewable energy are two ways that corporations, small business and municipalities can reduce their carbon footprint. The energy landscape will be making great strides by 2030 to transition to cleaner sources of energy. In November 2019, two of America’s largest coal plants shut down. And it may be that in the future, it becomes cheaper to tear down additional coal plants and replace them with renewables than it would be to let them continue operating. Solar and wind energy sources are becoming increasingly more affordable. The cost of renewable energy has continued to tumble over the past year, to the point where almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants. This falling cost of renewable energy allows it to play a central role in the wider efforts to tackle climate change. However, renewables cannot thrive without reliable cost-effective battery storage. Larger amounts of renewables also require a smarter and more flexible electric grid. A new generation mix of low-carbon sources that includes hydro, renewables, and nuclear is the future. Less-expensive technology, more advanced battery storage and ways to make the grid smart are also key to the solution. There is tremendous potential to revolutionize the energy market - for the benefit of the environment, business and the Arizona economy.
Learn more about how Arizona utilities are positioned to help transition Arizona's energy supplies to a cleaner economy, and how utilities are developing creative solutions in partnership with municipalities, business and corporations to lead the way to a cleaner energy future.
Transforming the Built Environment
The Built environment plays a key role in the mitigation of climate change. Green buildings, green building codes, and net zero energy goals have become increasingly important. More occupants seek spaces that are good for the environment and good for people. And as the pressure to slow and reverse climate change heats up, transformative changes in the way we address energy and climate issues through the built environment are needed. Building codes, as well as partnerships with architects and the commercial building and real estate industries are critical to mitigating climate impacts. Learn more about how the city of Austin’s efforts in working collaboratively with developers and building professionals to meet the City’s aggressive sustainability goals can be applied to cities in Arizona. Also hear more about how extreme heat is an increasing risk for Arizona cities and how a project, titled Scorched Arizona, outlines the intervention needed to mitigate impacts on real estate, infrastructure and the economy.
Water for Arizona Communities
Clean, reliable water supplies are critical for our communities, economy and environment. But a growing population and changing climate are stressing the water sources we all depend on. Learn more about current projections related to rising temperatures and water supplies. Hear how businesses are forming creative partnerships with conservation organizations to protect our watersheds and forests through reforestation and restoration projects. Gain an understanding of how Arizona’s rivers – though collaborative and coordinated actions by agencies and organizations can once again rise to the surface, nourish communities and provide water sustainability into the future.
Open Spaces and the New Economy
Open spaces in Arizona draw in people from around the world, to live and play, but the state's population is growing rapidly. Maricopa County continues to be the fastest growing county in the nation, but this fast-paced growth can present challenges for its iconic desert landscapes, and the economy.
Metro Phoenix has the largest municipal parks in the nation, and the desert expanses and mountain peaks contained in these parks serve as resources for the state's tourism industry and its current and prospective residents. As the nation's economy continues to shift toward skilled service industries, Arizona's business community will need to consider the "new economy" in order to compete for emerging industries and the skilled workforce required to support that development. Quality of life and the unique character of cities are essential to the state's competitiveness, and its open spaces are among Arizona's most valuable assets, particularly for tourism and the outdoor industry. In order to continue providing high quality recreation opportunities, the state must work together to support the maintenance of current open spaces and fund the growth of desert parks to match the rapid growth of the city.
Join the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance in this session to learn more about the new economy, challenges faced by open spaces, and to work together to identify solutions for the whole community.
TIME PERIOD TWO: 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Clean Mobility Solutions
The statistical consensus regarding climate change points to emissions from vehicles to be one of the largest producers of carbon in the atmosphere. Approximately one gallon of gas equals one pound of carbon in the air. Multiply that number by the average miles traveled and the number of vehicles on the road in Arizona and that can lead to a problematic future – especially as the state continues to grow.
Reports from the Arizona Department of Transportation show an increase in vehicle registrations in Arizona from 7.9 million in 2016 to 8.8 million in 2019 – and growing. This number includes total commercial and private vehicles. To add to this equation, Sky Harbor airport reports more than 1,200 aircrafts arrive and depart daily in Metropolitan Phoenix – when adding smaller air travel activity across Arizona that increases this number. Emissions from flight produces a substantially higher amount of carbon than ground vehicle emissions. Aside from carbon emissions from vehicles, land use and congestion on the road are other factors that impact climate change.
There are solutions. Projections indicate that the shift in mobility methods over the next decade will be monumental to social and environmental impacts. Electric, autonomous and urban air mobility are all viable methods that are in motion to make a difference for the state. The way businesses and cities integrate these new modes of travel can create financial benefits, economic growth as well as employee attraction and retention.
This session will be an interactive discussion on what to expect by 2030 and 2050 from the mobility sector. Businesses and cities can make shifts to impact positive change in the workplace and Arizona’s environment.
Health & Equity
Health risks associated with climate change are becoming increasingly more apparent across the globe. For Arizona, the long-term health effects of rising temperatures and heat waves, combined with poor air quality, are expected to be one of the most significant consequences of climate change. Action is needed to make communities less vulnerable to the impacts already in progress, and mitigate those that are expected to occur in the future. Higher ozone levels, particularly in Phoenix and Tucson, and violations of EPA standards, threaten public health, especially to those people who are susceptible: children, the elderly and asthmatics. As temperatures continue to rise, heat related deaths have tripled from 76 deaths in 2014 to 235 in 2017. Many communities in Arizona are at the forefront of addressing climate-sensitive health issues.
This session will cover how government can work with business, non-profits, and health related organizations to develop adaptive and creative solutions for those who are threatened the most by these environmental shifts. How can we build community collaboration, cohesion and resilience? What are the key recommendations on how to face these challenges? By addressing climate change in ways that protect health and equity, the challenge to create more vibrant, healthy and equitable communities in the Arizona is viable.
Urban Agriculture in Arizona
Agriculture in Arizona is currently a $23.3 billion industry. However, the picture is complicated. Maricopa County consumers spend at least $10 billion each year purchasing food sourced outside of the County while depending on $900 million of federal aid each year to provide food relief to low-income residents — roughly the same amount of money that farmers earn selling alfalfa, cotton, vegetables, and grains for export. Farming in urban areas and rural areas is very different and comes with unique challenges. Urban farmers tend to be isolated and lease their land rather than purchase it, making it easier for developers to acquire. Technology and planning will be a primary factor for future urban farming in the state. As Arizona’s population continues to rise and Metro Phoenix becomes more dense, water supply considerations will become more prominent, making urban agriculture a key factor in urban planning, resource conservation and a healthy community.
This session is intended to be a working group for urban farmers and other private and public stakeholders in our food system.
Working Toward a Circular Economy
Recycling programs are facing challenges in all areas of the nation. Since China has stopped accepting most of Arizona's "recyclables," the state's cities have struggled with what to do with what we now realize is going to waste. Mesa, Tucson and Kingman have reduced their recycling programs and Globe, Casa Grande, Sierra Vista and Surprise suspended their programs. From contamination to finding a market for the recycled material, recycling is one issue for which Arizona requires new solutions. Additional links are needed between the recycling sector and the manufacturing sector in order to create a more circular economy for Arizona.
This session is intended to be a working group of private and public stakeholders discussing a circular economy and potential solutions to the recycling problem.
SESSIONS RECAP AND ACTION PLAN DISCUSSION 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.
SOCIAL HOUR 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
THANK YOU TO OUR EVENT SPONSORS