01 Dec 2018

Combating Climate Change

What does environmental leadership look like in the age of global warming?


Photo by Neal Hamberg

If global temperatures rise by 6 degrees celsius by 2050—as they are on track to do—officials at the International Energy Agency say the changes would bring “devastating consequences for the planet.” And those consequences will extend to business: Storm-lashed customers will have cash flow problems. Supply chains will be disrupted. There will be new conflicts over water, resources, and human migration. The very physical integrity of factories and buildings will be threatened.

So what can businesses do? For most firms, environmental sustainability usually means greening operations and products—but that’s not nearly enough to stop climate change, says Michael Toffel, faculty chair of the Business and Environment Initiative. Business leaders have to become activists, he says: Lobby for sweeping and aggressive legislation to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Align trade groups. Leverage supply chains, and market their efforts. “Corporate environmental leadership today means engaging aggressively, even uncomfortably, to promote robust climate policy.”


Photo courtesy of Rick Needham

“Renewable energy sources will represent almost three-fourths of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generation through 2040.”
Rick Needham (MBA 2002), Partner, Energy Sector Lead, The Rise Fund


Photo courtesy of Bridget Nyland

“I’m interested in the opportunities that present themselves when you apply chemistry and chemical engineering to massive questions like climate change. Last summer I visited the huge chemical plants in Freeport, Texas. It occurred to me that if these plants are running nonstop, there are humans demanding these chemicals 24/7. It made me think about how you can either change the behavior of all those people, one by one—or change what we’re making on the front end and have a greater impact on the world overall.”
—Bridget Nyland (MBA 2019), Co-Chair, Energy and Environment Club’s Energy Symposium


MBA Program: Climate Change Challenge

As part of the first year Technology & Operations Management course, first-year students were challenged to consider how an organization of their choice was being affected by climate change.

Return to Tomorrow, Transformed
Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2002, Section C

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