Climate Leadership Gala Brings Hundreds of Green Economy Leaders

Earth Day Network hosted its fourth annual Climate Leadership Gala on May 22nd. Hundreds of green economy leaders in business, government and the NGO community assembled at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel to celebrate achievements, share ideas, and advance bold visions for expanding the green economy.

Over the course of the event, Earth Day Network honored two guests with special awards. The first award—the Climate Visionary Award—was given to Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The award was presented by Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. Musk spoke at length about the need for a carbon tax, as well as the important role of solar technology in the fight against climate change.

Earth Day Network also presented Melanne Verveer—executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues—with the 2013 Women and the Green Economy (WAGE®) Leadership Award. In her remarks, Verveer discussed the underrepresentation of women in businesses and institutions and the important role that women must play in the transition to the green economy.

“There is one thing I know for certain, said Verveer. “We will not address these challenges or solve them without unlocking a vital source of environmental leadership and action for decades to come, and that is unleashing the potential of half the world’s population: women and girls.” Environmental issues, although they affect us all, are in many ways, women’s issues and women’s issues must include environmental concerns for much is at stake.”

Dr. Ernest Moniz, United States Secretary of Energy, also spoke at the event, putting forth a bold agenda for the federal government’s energy and climate change policies over the next several years. The event represented one of Secretary Moniz’s first public appearances since taking on the role of Secretary of Energy earlier this week.

Other notable speakers included Yves-Francois Blanchet, Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development and Environment, who spoke about electrifying public transportation in Quebec and Quebec’s new cap and trade program in conjunction with the state of California; James Balog, founder of Extreme Ice Survey and star of Academy Award® shortlisted documentary Chasing Ice, who showed some remarkable footage from his documentary and spoke about the latest climate science and efforts to educate young people; Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, who presented the WAGE award to Melanne Verveer; and actor and former Energy Star® representative John Corbett. Ed Begley, Jr., actor and green living expert, hosted the event. Corbett and Begley kept the crowd on its toes with great comedic interludes and anecdotes about the benefits of green living and entrepreneurship.  

The impressive lineup of speakers and guests – as well as the innovative ideas that were put forth and the networking opportunities that were afforded – made for a truly extraordinary event, one that will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration to all who attended.

“Earth Day Network is proud to support the work of these innovators and policymakers not just at this event,” said Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers. “We’re proud to bring entrepreneurial activitists together to strengthen the fabric of our movement and share cutting-edge ideas for creating a clean environment while creating jobs.”

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