Earth Day at Hogan Lovells

Encompass HK's presents citizen science with iNaturalist at Hogan Lovells on Earth Day 2021.

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, Hogan Lovells hosted a presentation “The World turns to Climate Action/ Net-Zero, the New Ambition; Do I have a Role?” to address actions being taken world-wide to prevent climate change, and how the average person can get involved. The host included speakers from a variety of different companies and backgrounds, each with their own fascinating perspectives.

Bas Fransen, founder and CEO of Eco Matcher, was the first to speak. He began his talk by reviewing the world’s attempts at cutting carbon emissions, noting that while worldwide carbon emissions have dropped, carbon in the atmosphere is still at an all-time high. He emphasized that he remains hopeful, and is enthused by the fact that many countries have agreed to attempt to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050 and are already making large strides. He then turned his focus to his company, Eco Matcher, which aims to help companies ESG goals by providing transparency in their tree planting promises to help offset carbon emissions. His company assists foundations globally fulfill their tree planting promises, and his firm has a goal to reach a billion trees planted by 2023. What makes Eco Matcher so unique is its powerful data technology, allowing them to keep track of where and when each tree is planted, as well as its species. This ensures companies are kept accountable on following through with their tree planting promises. The software also allows environmental organizations and experts to access data that helps them monitor the ecosystems where these trees are planted.

Becky Clissmann, a Senior Editor at Thomson Reuters, was the next speaker. She began with a somber and alarming note by describing what our world will look like in the next 10 years in the absence of drastic changes to our habits. She pictures a world that has been fundamentally changed from what we know today, with water shortages across the world and violent disputes erupting between nations for valuable resources. The picture she paints sounds bleak and almost somewhat apocalyptic, and she warns that this is what our world could descend into without sweeping changes to our consumption and CO2 production. On a brighter note, she acknowledges that many countries today are undertaking massive efforts to cut back on their carbon emissions, and it is up to them to follow through on their promises.

Duncan Ritchie was the next speaker, and he spoke on his innovative company, Zero Carbon 2030, where he’s the CEO. This company sources reliable information on companies’ carbon emissions and posts this data to their website, allowing consumers to make more environmentally-friendly choices. With more and more people around the globe cognizant of their carbon footprint, this website offers a convenient and reliable source of information for consumers. The company provides each company they have information on with a carbon score to make it easy for consumers to view. As more consumers begin to watch the impact of their consumption, more companies are pressured to become transparent about their environmentally-friendly actions and their impact on carbon emissions.

Benita Chick, CEO and founder of Encompass HK, was the last to speak, and she vividly described her mission to increase sustainable practices in Hong Kong, including promoting awareness of biodiversity via the iNaturalist citizen science platform. She first explained that her company, Encompass HK, is a social enterprise that advocates for Social Development Goals (SDGs) through training and consultancy services to educate and support organizations to be more diversified and inclusive. The enterprise works to serve the community by being a strong advocate of social causes and working along with non-governmental organizations in Hong Kong. Benita frequently hosts  eco-tours in areas rich in biodiversity around Hong Kong to help raise awareness of the rich ecosystems present in Hong Kong, helping individuals appreciate and value the local natural environment. By involving the public and corporate workers in these Eco-oriented activities, she hopes to inspire them to watch their consumption habits and impact on the environment more closely.

In sum, the speakers at the presentation hosted by Hogan Lovells addressed the ecological challenges facing mankind today and how individuals can be more proactive in ensuring they are making a positive impact for change. Bas Fransen noted that technology can be used to enhance accountability of companies’ carbon emission goals by tracking tree-planting. Becky Clissman underlined the urgency of turning the tide away from ecological chaos, but noted many counties are actively committed to carbon emission reduction. Duncan Ritchie spoke of the need to empower consumers with information on the impact of their choices, and Benita Chick spoke of the many ways individuals and companies in Hong Kong can engage with the environment and improve their Sustainable Development Goals. Collectively, the speakers articulated both the hope and the challenge of addressing the pressing matter of climate change.

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