Changes to the world’s climate are becoming harder to ignore, and businesses around the world see its impact on society more each year. In the first four months of 2023, fluctuating temperatures and stronger storms caused ripple effects to food availability and the global supply chain, affecting millions around the world.
As more organizations aim to combat these effects by committing to a goal of net-zero emissions, it’s more important than ever to prepare to build long-term growth while ensuring a climate-healthy future at the same time. Decision-makers around the world are consulting with top scientists, academics, entrepreneurs and other recognized thought leaders to gain valuable insights that support a durable strategy to weather any storm, no matter how the climate shifts.
Read on to discover ten climate and energy experts Stern represents who are showing organizations and governments how to invest strategically, find purpose, take decisive action and influence others to build a cleaner and safer future, during Earth Month and beyond.
The Planetary Purpose of Business
More and more companies are asking why: What’s the purpose of business beyond profit? If we exist for more than short-term gain, what “more” do we serve? Climate strategist, New York Times bestselling senior writer of “Drawdown,” and editor of “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis” Katharine Wilkinson argues that it’s impossible to answer these questions without grounding them in the current and future realities of the planet we call home. When organizations fail to do that, they play far too small. When they embrace it, they take purpose to another level. As an advisor and through her engaging talks, Wilkinson invites a deepening, expansion and reinvigoration of why by setting purpose in the context of climate change and the planetary need for regeneration. With tailored guidance for a given sector or company, Wilkinson helps audiences clarify a purpose that is significant, impactful and necessary.
Sustainability as a Fulcrum for Corporate Innovation
Driving innovation for organic growth is always challenging for companies, says Harvard Professor Rebecca Henderson, author of the Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year, “Reimagining Capitalism in a World On Fire” (2020). But it is especially hard when new markets often look less profitable than existing ones and all organizations become increasingly comfortable with the status quo. Yet, leading companies are finding that the immense challenges posed by climate change and the need to use resources more efficiently provide the essential stimulus to focus and act in new ways. In her riveting talks, Professor Henderson explains how business’ commitment to solving “big problems” can unlock not only tremendous enthusiasm amongst employees, but also exactly the kind of creative thinking and commitment to work across organizational boundaries that is at the root of most significant innovation. She shares stories of companies such as Unilever that are getting it right — often using a big overarching game plan, like becoming a leader in creating sustainable solutions — to catapult the company into a new direction.
Investing in Decarbonization Technology: A Vital Step on the Path to Creating a Sustainable Future
The climate crisis has presented humanity with its greatest challenge yet. The good news is, emerging technologies are offering us a powerful path to reaching net zero by 2050, and investment in climate tech is ramping up. Renowned technology writer, investor and corporate advisor Azeem Azhar, award-winning author of “The Exponential Age,” gives audiences an inside look at the promising technologies that are our best hope for addressing the climate crisis. He also highlights related research he conducted with PwC, discusses investment opportunities, and shares insights from experts at the forefront of climate tech, many of whom he has personally interviewed. Audiences gain a valuable window into proven decarbonization strategies that can be implemented across industries to begin counteracting the growing climate crisis.
What Can I Do? A Guide to Influencing Climate Action
When people hear about the climate crisis, they often ask the same question: “What can I do?” While making changes in your life is a valuable training ground, changing your own behavior is not as powerful as changing the institutions around you, says renowned climate expert, policy strategist, author of “Short Circuiting Policy” and UC Santa Barbara Professor Leah Stokes. For climate-conscious leaders, Stokes outlines a framework for taking climate action – starting with yourself, then moving outwards into community, and finally toward impacting policy change. Audiences are empowered with the tools they need to chip away at laws and corporate policies so they can play a part in cutting pollution, with the goal of addressing the climate crisis.
Smart ESG: Strategic Investing in the Era of Climate Change
There is broad scientific consensus that to avert the most catastrophic consequences from climate change, we need to reach net zero emissions across many regions by the middle of the 21st century. Should this goal not be reached, the uptick in natural disasters will render many organizations’ long-term growth plans irrelevant. According to Harvard Business School Professor George Serafeim, author of “Purpose and Profit: How Business Can Lift Up The World” (2022), the good news is that while a transition to net zero creates some risks, it also presents opportunities for organizations and their investors. Serafeim, who also co-founded consulting firm KKS Advisors, provides a holistic overview of climate-related risks and opportunities under different scenarios, with an emphasis on measuring, valuing and designing data analytics, investment processes, products and contracts through the lens of climate change.
Climate Change Strategy and Policies: Getting the Science Right
The idea that “climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, says Steven E. Koonin – a renowned authority on energy technology strategy and climate research and founding director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress – that claim is misguided and has distorted public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse gas emissions and the environment. In presentations based on his eye-opening bestselling book, “Unsettled” – which was named one of Amazon’s “best books of the year so far” in June 2021 and a best science book of 2021 – and his years of work diving deep into government studies, Koonin helps bridge the gap between what we’ve been told about climate change and the broader scientific research that has been obscured. Audiences come away with a deeper understanding of the Earth’s climate system, how global and regional climates have changed in the recent and distant past, and how climate models are used to project future changes driven by both natural and growing human influences. Audiences also learn how to critically read climate coverage in the media, government assessment reports and the research literature.
Solutions to Climate Change Open Up New Opportunities and New Markets
Some traditional organizations may not be fully aware of the investment opportunities and new markets being created by climate change solutions, says Angel Hsu, UNC Chapel Hill professor, founding director of the Data-Driven EnviroLab and a global expert on climate policy. Hsu has spent more than a decade working on ways to address problems related to climate change, particularly in such areas as energy, urbanization, indoor and outdoor air quality, and natural and man-made disasters – all of which present opportunities for companies to innovate and develop solutions. In her talks, she provides an overview of the climate change market – including how environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and data analysis fit into the equation – and offers leaders a new lens on how to compete in this emerging market.
How to Grow and Be Good
There is often an unfortunate assumption that a society’s economic growth must come at the expense of the environment and social equality. To get rich, we have to give up some of our happiness, the argument goes. Michael Green – CEO of the Social Progress Imperative and renowned global economist and expert on quantifying and implementing socially responsible business practices and investments – says the facts do not validate this conclusion. Indeed, material prosperity and sustainability, inclusiveness and social justice typically go hand-in-hand, and societies that sacrifice these latter values for GDP growth are fostering long-term instability that will ultimately threaten their wealth and well-being. For companies looking to grow and be good, Green provides an overview of his methodology for measuring real progress in an economy. He further offers tools and solutions for changing one’s perspective about prosperity and implementing an inclusive growth strategy. Ultimately, Green aims to inform audiences on the best ways to ensure inclusive, sustainable economic or business growth in a world that often feels it is hopelessly divided and endangered.
Simplifying Global Decarbonization Reporting
Global decarbonization is more urgent than ever, but right now there’s a wide variety of carbon emission accounting methods and standards. That’s why Oxford University Professor Karthik Ramanna and former Harvard Business School Professor Robert S. Kaplan co-created the E-liability Institute, a non-profit that aims to give organizations a standardized global method for measuring carbon emissions and footprints. The duo created the E-liability method, the first system to accurately measure and report corporate greenhouse gas emissions across supply and distribution chains. With the new E-liability Institute, Ramanna and Kaplan aim to help leaders embrace the E-liability method to create new sources of value and boost ESG initiatives.
Climate-committed organizations can improve the future of our planet with the expert guidance of leading scientists, entrepreneurs and academics from around the world. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.