Moderator: Ann Goodman, Ph.D.
Panelists: Chris Walker, Director North America, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD);
Bernhard Frey, Manager, Environment & Climate, UN Global Compact; Dale Bryk, Director of Programs, Natural Resources Defense Council;
The recent Paris COP 21 accord is widely hailed as a historic show of solidarity among nearly 200 nations to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius to prevent further global warming. While scientists warn that the accord may be too late to stem the most severe effects of climate change, the negotiations and results are clear indications of a giant step in the right direction. What’s more, the accord is an acknowledgement that global warming must be addressed by everyone now.
Among the most important steps forward: Business (among other non-state actors, like cities) is clearly at the table, with corporate leaders of every stripe—including Big Oil–supporting drastic changes and pledging to overhaul operations to lower greenhouse gases. Indeed, business is arguably the practical ‘grease’ that can put into motion the wheels to drive a new economy.
COP conversations were rife with discussions of such new ways forward: from putting a “price on carbon;” to divesting fossil fuels from portfolios (or at the very least removing fossil fuel subsidies); to changing investment thinking from short-term profit to longer-term goals; to encouraging public-private partnerships that actually work to ensure everyone benefits fairly.
That’s a tall order, but not impossible. Indeed, as speakers on this panel can attest, the need for change has always inspired business opportunity, and there’s ample reason to believe this challenge may already be doing the same.