“I’m here to talk about a transformation,” Roger Martella said on Tuesday during the U.S. Center’s opening ceremony at COP27, in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh. Sharing the stage with figures like John Kerry, the United States special presidential envoy for climate, John Podesta, senior adviser to the president for clean energy innovation and implementation, and Michael Bloomberg, UN special envoy on climate ambition and solutions, GE Chief Sustainability Officer Roger Martella said that his company is part of a “transformation in companies stepping up to be key parts of the solution to taking action to address climate change.”
Martella was onstage to help unveil the Corporate Coalition for Innovation and Technology toward Net Zero (CCITNZ), a new initiative founded by six leading innovation companies — Bechtel, GE, GM, Honeywell, Invenergy, and Johnson Controls — to support governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders in bringing innovation and technology to the table to address climate change. Announcing the project with him was Katie McGinty, vice president and chief sustainability and external relations officer at Johnson Controls.
CCITNZ is designed as an “accelerator for industries across sectors and geographies” that will focus on developing breakthrough technologies for addressing climate change while promoting energy security and long-term sustainable development. The coalition aims to strengthen public-private partnerships so that the sum of their efforts, in Martella’s words, can be greater than the parts.
As the company whose technology helps generate one-third of the world's electricity, Martella said, GE has throughout its 130-year history used “innovation and technology to lift up the quality of life for people everywhere. That’s never been more important than it is today.”
Innovation and technology, in fact, make up the first of the coalition’s five objectives:
Innovation and Technology: Promote concrete, practical, and cost-effective technology solutions to tackle emissions and decarbonization challenges
Partnership: Promote strong partnerships with stakeholders in the private, public, and social sectors across international venues and forums to enable solutions beyond what any one stakeholder can realize
Energy Security: Partner with governments and other stakeholders to advance energy security, decarbonization, and sustainable development needs
Policy: Support sound public policies that are consistent with improving environmental effectiveness and foster innovation
Resource: Provide expertise and thought leadership to governments and other stakeholders on technology and innovation as they seek to achieve their decarbonization and climate change goals
“No one country can do this alone,” former Secretary of State Kerry said in his introduction to the event, and Martella echoed that, saying that no one company can do it alone. Kerry also pointed out that with or without government support, the private sector is moving ahead and will continue to move ahead to meet Paris Agreement goals. Regardless of who occupies the White House, he said, in recent years “more than 75% of the new electricity that came online came from renewables.”
“Energy is a critical national security issue,” said former New York City major Bloomberg. “It’s in the interest of all nations to develop their own clean energy systems, and cities, states, regions, and businesses can help pave the way forward and build a more peaceful and prosperous future.”
The UN summit kicked off last weekend and continues through Friday, November 18. To view the livestream from this event and others, visit the State Department’s COP27 website.