2024 Theme:  We do hard things

Houston Energy & Climate Week Program

The official events program is the primary way for communities and individuals to engage.  This year's inaugural theme is "We do hard things."

Spread across ten themes, the wider week works with leaders, organizations, and schools across Greater Houston, as well as a variety of hybrid and online activities. Organizers are invited to submit events from early May, with the list published late spring and updated weekly.  

The program themes are Energy, Innovation, Industry, Food, Environmental Justice, Health, Finance, Workforce, Community Engagement and Policy.

Energy, the sector responsible for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, stands as the primary contributor to pollution worldwide. Buildings alone account for nearly 40% of these emissions and consume a third of the world's energy. To cut global emissions by half within the next decade, immediate and decisive actions are essential. Our Energy program unites policy makers and industry specialists in a worldwide effort to achieve a net-zero future through fair and equitable methods. Our discussions span a variety of critical topics, including but not limited to the decarbonization of fossil fuels, renewable energy, fair and equitable transitions, energy legislation, economic initiatives, and commitments to net zero emissions, as well as focusing on net-zero buildings, and the enhancement of heating, cooling, and energy efficiency practices.
Energy innovation sits at the heart of the transition towards a cleaner, sustainable future. Within this dynamic landscape, startups are the vanguard, pushing the boundaries of what's technically possible and commercially viable. These agile entities are creating breakthrough technologies in energy storage, efficiency, and renewable power sources, thus reshaping the energy sector. The ecosystem supporting these startups is vast and multifaceted, comprising incubators, accelerators, research institutions, and government initiatives. These structures provide the essential resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities needed for growth and development. Investors play a critical role in this ecosystem, fueling innovation with capital, strategic partnerships, and market insights. Their investment decisions often reflect confidence in the sector's growth potential and the broader commitment to achieving a net-zero emissions future. This interplay between startups, the ecosystem, and investors is not just about advancing technology but is a collaborative effort to redefine energy production, distribution, and consumption for the 21st century and beyond
Cement, steel production, and plastics in manufacturing and construction are significant sources of carbon emissions worldwide. The Industry program opens a forum for exploring ways in which these sectors can decarbonize and elevate efficiency levels. Adopting a more circular economy model has the potential to slash CO2 emissions, up to 40% around the globe. Discussion topics are extensive, encompassing the industrial circular economy, the heavy industries of cement, aluminum, and plastics, the pursuit of net-zero steel targets, and innovations in manufacturing processes. The circular economy model offers a reimagination of the traditional linear economy, which typically follows a 'take-make-dispose' pattern. This model seeks to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits.
The global food ecosystem is responsible for 21-37% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, underscoring a significant yet often understated impact on climate change. Critical to mitigating this impact are land-based solutions and regenerative practices, aspects that lie at the heart of our discussions in the Food program. This initiative is dedicated to exploring avenues for reducing greenhouse gas emissions stemming from agriculture and food production, with an emphasis on promoting sustainable dietary habits, land rejuvenation, and broader environmental restoration. Our discourse encompasses a diverse range of topics, including but not limited to, the role of agriculture, the integration of agroforestry, the pathways of food from production to consumption, strategies for minimizing food waste, the implementation of regenerative farming techniques, the stewardship of land by Indigenous communities, the potential of carbon sequestration methods, adoption of diets that favor the climate, efforts in land restoration and conservation, and the importance of maintaining healthy soil ecosystems.
Environmental Justice
Achieving justice is essential across all domains of climate action, where racial and socioeconomic factors critically influence outcomes. The dynamics of privilege, power, and systemic oppression determine which communities bear the greatest burden of climate change—often, these are Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color, and migrant groups. The Environmental Justice program focuses on elevating the experiences and insights of those disproportionately affected by climate change yet historically excluded from policy and decision-making processes. This initiative is about valuing and prioritizing the leadership of the world's most vulnerable communities, ensuring their pivotal role in guiding environmental justice efforts. It prioritizes embedding the principles of environmental justice into every climate-related dialogue.
Recognizing and responding to climate change transcends environmental concerns alone, rising to a paramount issue of public health. Central to our discussions will be strategies for building resilient healthcare systems, enhancing community health through environmental initiatives, and promoting policies that prioritize health equity in the face of climate adversity. By integrating health considerations into climate strategies, the program seeks to champion a holistic approach to climate action, ensuring that health resilience is a core outcome of sustainability efforts. Collaborations with healthcare professionals, policymakers, community leaders, and environmental scientists will drive forward a comprehensive agenda aimed at mitigating climate impacts on health while fostering a healthier, more sustainable future for all.
The Finance Program is poised at the intersection of economics and sustainability, underlining the critical role of financial markets and institutions in combating decarbonization, the energy transition, and climate change. This program aims to mobilize investment. Discussions will explore the deployment of innovative financing models, such as green bonds and climate risk insurance, and examine how financial policies can be aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. We will also discuss the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in investment decision-making processes. By gathering financial experts, investors, policymakers, the Finance Program seeks to bridge the gap between finance and sustainability, encouraging the flow of capital to support a lower-carbon, climate-resilient world economy.
The Workforce and Jobs Program is dedicated to addressing the crucial intersection of the energy transition, employment, and the evolving nature of work. With a particular focus on the talent pipeline, and the retaining and upskilling of workers in trades along with the cross-skilling of professionals in various jobs, this initiative recognizes that a sustainable future demands a workforce that is adaptable, skilled, and prepared for the challenges ahead. Our discussions and efforts will center on innovative strategies to ensure workers in traditional industries have pathways to transition into the green economy, including through retraining programs and support mechanisms that facilitate entry into sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable construction, and environmental conservation. By engaging stakeholders from education, industry, government, and the workforce itself, the Workforce and Jobs Program aims to cultivate a dialogue around best practices for building a workforce that is capable of driving forward a sustainable and equitable economy.
Community Engagement
The Community Engagement Program is designed to foster a deep connection between energy transition initiatives and the communities they aim to serve. At the heart of effective change is the empowerment and active involvement of local populations, ensuring that environmental efforts are both informed by and beneficial to those most affected. This program seeks to build partnerships with community leaders, local non-profits, and grassroots organizations to identify, develop, and implement solutions that are tailored to the unique needs and strengths of each community.
The Policy Program stands at the forefront of developing and advocating for robust policies that aim to mitigate the impacts of climate change while fostering sustainable growth and equality. Efforts within this program are focused on influencing legislation, promoting regulatory frameworks that support carbon reduction, renewable energy adoption, and energy efficiency, as well as ensuring that a just transition for all is central to policy discussions.