Business’s Role in Confronting Climate Change


Experts have long known that governments alone cannot combat the effects of climate change and that businesses must join the fight. A recent survey of executives published by the global consulting and auditing firm Deloitte shows that business executives agree: over 80 percent are concerned about the world being at a climate change tipping point. Between scarcity and cost of resources to catastrophic climate events, both global organizations and small businesses across the world are feeling the impact of the warming planet.

It makes sense, then, for industry to act even if only for its own longevity and prosperity. But what can businesses do? How can organizations turn concern into action? Business leaders have their own ideas.

In the Deloitte report, executives named education and promoting science-backed climate research as ways to spur action and fuel policy reforms. But even more important, according to Deloitte’s CEO Punit Renjen, is that business should lead in “innovations and technology that will help curtail private sector impact on the environment.”

Harvard Business School professor Borill Valée believes that business leaders must “turbocharge” their efforts to use capitalism as a means to impact climate change. He says leaders must accelerate their actions by aligning profit with decarbonization efforts.

HBS professor Rebecca Henderson points out that all businesses ought to deal with the situation by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations and supply chains while maintaining a “strong” return on capital. But even more important, Henderson notes, is that business needs to support climate regulations and create partnerships between the public and private sector. Because climate change affects the entire world’s economy, she says business must insist that politicians act now to protect the future.

Calls for leading with moral conviction and bolstering impact investing (investing in ways that will benefit society and the environment while producing a solid ROI) are other means business can adapt to share the burden that faces us all.

Isn’t it in everyone’s interest to do so?


  1. Why is it in business’s best interest to take aggressive measures to decarbonize?
  2. What are some ways small businesses can do their part to decarbonize?
  3. Why do experts say government alone cannot fix climate change?

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