Climate Change

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The Paris Agreement — It's Down to Business

The Paris Agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era, shifting the entire world economy — with huge implications for business. Governments in 195 countries committed to climate goals, but the scale of the transition required is such that governments can’t do it alone. We need business to fully commit, too. And the mechanism for this commitment can be found in business by-laws and constitution statements.

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The Insurance Industry Wants a World That Is Sustainable and Insurable

Insurance companies are uniquely positioned to address challenges such as climate change and human rights issues in their roles as risk managers, risk carriers, and investors. The Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) initiative launched by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative in 2012 serves as a global framework for this effort. The PSI are now backed by more than 80 organizations worldwide, representing 20% of world premiums and $14 trillion (USD) in assets.

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Business Needs to Pay Off Its Climate Debt

As the world gears up for a new round of climate talks, companies need to step up and make sustained, multi-year commitments to absolute reductions in their carbon footprints. It’s been calculated that the U.S. business sector needs to reduce emissions by more than 3% per year to avoid the worst climate scenarios — but this option is surprisingly cost-effective. Although many of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases haven’t yet stepped up, Gregory Unruh argues that they must do so now — or face catastrophe.

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Are Firms and Managers At Risk When Contributing to Climate Change?

At what point do corporate executives become personally liable for their companies’ failure to take action on climate change? This question is moving into focus as more company executives are being held accountable for business practices and decisions that harm the public. Climate activists look at precedents in the tobacco industry and asbestos manufacturing as the potential basis of legal action against the fossil fuel industry’s leadership.

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How Sprint Negotiates Sustainability

As the head of corporate social responsibility at Sprint, Amy Hargroves has challenged the telecommunications company to “walk the talk” on sustainability, with significant success. But it hasn’t come easy by any means. In her interview with MIT SMR, Hargroves describes how she has partnered with Sprint’s legal and government affairs team to turn principles into practice.

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A View from the Peak: Balancing Our Carbon Budget

Earlier this year, the financial services company HSBC came out with a report in which their analysts calculated that taking climate change seriously could cut share prices of major oil companies by up to 60%. That report, Peak Planet: The next upswing for the climate agenda, held some sobering news for business. Now that it has been made freely available on the company’s website, executives concerned with managing risks may want to read it.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Worldizen.

A Hotter Climate Limits Growth

It seems pretty obvious that droughts and hot weather hurt agricultural output and growth, but MIT professor of economics Benjamin Olken asserts that even localized hot spells can significantly damage long-term economic growth in developing countries. In a recent paper published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Olken and his colleagues found that every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature in a poor country reduces economic growth by around 1.3 percentage points, and that higher temperatures also may reduce the rate of growth.

Image courtesy of Flickr user World Economic Forum.

What Environmental Ratings Miss

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Given the sparkle that environmental rankings lend to high-ranking companies, they should take into account a business’s advocacy activities to influence environmental regulation in addition to the business’s internal operations, argue Auden Schendler of the Aspen Skiing Company and Michael Toffel of Harvard Business School.

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BBC Web Game Lets You Feel Full Force of Political Decisions

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The BBC’s free web-based game Climate Challenge lets you to take a shot at cutting down on green house gases while growing the economy, staying on budget, and keeping the public happy. Play it too aggressively and you’ll get voted out of office. You may even be told, “You were a deeply unpopular leader who cared nothing for the happiness of the population.”

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