An Introduction to Climate Capitalism
This post is part of a new monthly column on Corporate Knights by Boyd Cohen on the topic of “Climate Capitalism“.
I am honored to be invited as a regular contributor to Corporate Knights. Corporate Knights has obviously built a leading brand in the delivery of high quality content at the intersection of business and the low carbon economy in Canada. Its annual rankings of universities, cities and companies have become globally recognized.
Given that I will be writing one post per month in the coming months I thought I should provide a brief summary of my background. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in Strategy & Entrepreneurship. After reading Natural Capitalism, I was inspired to focus on the intersection of sustainability and entrepreneurship. I taught and researched sustainable entrepreneurship at the Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, Spain) and UVIC, SFU, and more recently UBC. After starting a handful of green businesses on the side, I decided to resign from full-time academics to try my hand as a full time sustainable entrepreneur.
I have co-founded ventures in green building, green IT, and most recently, in carbon. In November 2009, I co-founded CO2 IMPACT to primarily focus on developing high quality carbon offset projects in the Americas. We have current projects in our portfolio in gasification and energy efficiency and coal mine methane capture. CO2 IMPACT also is in advanced stages of business planning for a bioenergy facility in Canada. In this column I will share some of my experiences from the trenches of the clean economy.
I have also been fortunate enough to coauthor the sequel of Natural Capitalism with Hunter Lovins. Our forthcoming book, Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change seeks to shift the argument away from the absurd debate about whether climate change actually exists or if humans are partially to blame, and instead argues that whether you care about or believe that climate change is real, companies will make real profits in the shift to a low carbon economy regardless. In Climate Capitalism, we take a deep dive into many key sectors from energy efficiency and renewables to transportation, buildings, agriculture and even carbon markets and climate change adaptation. Given that Corporate Knights is the “Magazine for Clean Capitalism,” the fit couldn’t be better.
In this column I hope to share insights from the book as well as from my own experiences in the carbon markets and from the inspiring people I have met from North America to Latin America who are part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. Visionary business leaders from pioneers in gasification technologies like Nexterra to the latest corporate winners of Richard Branson’s Gigaton Awards, climate capitalists are already proving that low carbon solutions make good business sense.
If we can continue to show that businesses can make as much or more money by being part of the climate solution, we can turn the political tide too. We all know that money talks and the business lobby is a powerful force in Washington. Companies like Nike, Apple and PGE protested largely when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began its lobbying campaign against climate legislation. These are early adopters who recognize that the world needs capitalists who promote, not fight, the shift to low carbon, and that in fact, the health of our economy depends on such a shift.
This column aims to help in spreading the word about individuals, businesses and even cities and governments who are proving that climate capitalism is the path to economic prosperity. It will also address emerging developments that impact opportunities for climate capitalists, such as recent developments with cap and trade policy in California and Ontario’s plan to phase out coal in the energy sector.