Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Asheville event makes a business play on climate change

By Taylor Wanbaugh

Asheville, already branded for its rich music, arts and food scene, has now been dubbed “Climate City,” as it plays host to the inaugural ClimateCon. The 10-day mid-March conference is expected to draw hundreds of people interested in the topic and how to possibly make money from it.

“Our goal is that the attendees recognize that they not just need to act on climate change, but to understand that there are actually business opportunities in developing and adopting climate solutions,” says Megan Robinson, executive director of The Collider, a nonpartisan innovation center that is hosting ClimateCon 2018. “The idea is to convene leaders — from climate researchers, climate entrepreneurs, business leaders, government leaders — in order to move the needle of the adoption and development of data-driven climate solutions.”

The conference has four main sections, with costs ranging from $95 to $999: the Business of Climate Forum, the Summit for Emerging Climate Leaders, the Climate Solutions Showcase and the Climate City Experience, in which museums, breweries, restaurants and other businesses will host climate-themed events that are open to the public. Each will provide opportunities for business leaders, students and the public to participate in in-depth discussions about solving issues related to climate change.

“Whether they have a local beer that’s climate-themed or attend a presentation that is put on by another nonprofit, we just want people to engage in science that week,” Robinson says. “We want people to understand a little bit more about climate change and know that Asheville is Climate City.”

Asheville is a fitting location, given that it’s home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce that houses the world’s largest collection of climate, weather and environmental data. The topic of climate change is politically touchy, of course. U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows, who represent parts of Asheville, voted in 2015 to block the Clean Power Plan instituted by the Obama administration to combat global warming. Lessons that businesses can learn from the conference will be beneficial, regardless of their stance on climate change, Robinson says.

“Climate impacts everything,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what industry you are a part of; you can learn from attending this conference. The material that will be presented is applicable to everything from the fashion industry, to the insurance industry, to the agricultural sector.”

For more information on ClimateCon 2018, including speakers, costs and planned events, visit

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