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Local Company Participates in Paris Climate Change Conference

S Bence
Clay Nesler

Official delegates aren’t the only people milling about at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. NGOs and businesses are also well represented.

Clay Nester is representing Johnson Controls at the UN conference. It’s not his first; Nester attended the 2009 gathering in Copenhagen.

“We can be observers within the plenaries, but very rarely have any sort of formal role. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a couple of interventions for exactly two minutes on the role of the private sector, marketplace mechanisms, innovations, things such as that,” Nester says.

The VP thinks Johnson Controls as a story to tell and technology that can help solve environmental challenges.

The Glendale-based company, with an international reach, boasts its commitment to sustainability dates back to its invention of the first electric thermostat in 1885.

In 2002, Johnson Controls set out to cut greenhouse gas emissions across its operations. It reports a 41 percent reduction.

Its corporate headquarters lives and breathes sustainability – from  heating and cooling, to  lighting systems.

Johnson Controls’ battery division experimented with energy-storing lithium ion batteries that are now at work at headquarters to maximize its sea of solar panels.

“When a cloud goes over and there is shade of the PVs, we use the stored energy in the batteries to basically fill in the gaps. It charges and discharges throughout the day,” Nesler says.

He says the technology can be used in both developed and developing countries.

Nesler says the private sector is critical to help handle the world’s changing climate.

“There isn’t enough public money in the world to make all the improvements that we need, address resiliency issues, climate mitigation issues. We really need to unlock the power of the private sector and markets to be able to make these improvements,” Nesler says.

In Paris, Nesler hopes to encourage governments to enact policies and programs to encourage corporate investment in solutions.

“The good news is energy efficiencies general pay for themselves. It’s not a cost, it’s an investment. Not making these investments is actually costing the companies, the governments and society,” Nesler says.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.