Businesses Take On Climate Change

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Beyond Petroleum? [Penumbra / Flickr]

Post-Katrina seems like the right moment to resume our intermittent climate change miniseries. This time, we’re looking at the Bottom Line. Figuring out how and why some businesses are tackling their greenhouse-gas emissions is a helpful angle into global warming because it gets right to a central issue: motivation. What is it really going to take to motivate companies (…and individuals and towns and countries…) to become more energy efficient? Money certainly plays a central role here, and a number of forward-thinking companies across lots of industries (e.g., BP, GE, Swiss Re, HSBC) have figured out that reducing their greenhouse gas emissions is good not only for their image but also for their wallets. Many of them are finding that by eliminating certain inefficiencies in their energy use they can actually save money — lots of it — while going green. In other words, it’s simple business common sense.

These are companies that anticipate an end to our carbon-based economy and want to be on the leading edge of whatever comes next. They see business opportunities in innovative energy-efficient products. They want to be involved in upcoming policy debates on greenhouse-gas regulation.

So among the questions for this hour: why aren’t more businesses jumping on the bandwagon? And why do some oil & gas giants — like BP — see $$$ in being progressive on global warming while others — like ExxonMobile — see $$$ in continuing to deny that climate change is even an issue?

Other things we’d like to ask: Are the BPs of the world just talking the talk or actually walking the walk? And are they doing anywhere near enough to effect real change?

A Few Interesting Links

The Business Environmental Leadership Council at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

BP on global warming

A clickable list of companies working on global warming with The Climate Group.

A new report from Ceres on how global warming threatens insurers.

Sadly, despite repeated inquiries, BP, GE, and Chevron didn’t make anyone available to join us on the show. We still have calls out to quite a few other companies. Here’s our evolving roster of guests:

Mindy Lubber

President of Ceres. Director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk. Former Regional Administrator for the EPA.

Steve Howard

CEO of The Climate Group.

John Stowell

Vice president for environmental strategy and sustainability at Cinergy, a large energy company (electricity and gas) based in Ohio that is about to merge with Duke Energy.

Francis Sullivan

HSBC’s Advisor on the Environment. Here’s a relevant interview with him.

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