Business Climate Shifts: Profiles of Change Makers

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Sustainability version 1. It has ushered in a growing number of businesses around the world who now have a good understanding of their material environmental and social impacts; it has prompted the creation of new economic instruments designed to promote sustainable development, from green bonds to impact investing; it has spawned a new approach to marketing, with purpose now a key driver for many forward-looking brands; and critically, Sustainability 1.

The stark climate change science tells us that our window to act meaningfully and avoid the worst — and in many ways, absolutely terrifying — impacts of climate change, is closing fast. And even then we will need to get very real about understanding a world where deep adaptation to climate change dictates how we live our lives. At the end of , I am feeling less optimistic about our ability to deliver the wonderful SDGs by From making the generic business case for sustainability to showing how it can create value.

The business case for sustainability is so obvious, and yet only a tiny percentage of publicly listed companies have properly integrated sustainability into their core strategy. Diving deep on the detail has certainly worked for Unilever, whose Sustainable Living Plan USLP embedded nine specific commitments and targets at the heart of its operation, affecting decisions across the company and its value chain. From detailed implementation planning, to experimenting, learning fast and adapting.

Spending months on a detailed implementation plan, sticking to it, and hoping to deliver transformational change — or indeed any change — is slightly insane, as the enablers for successful delivery will have changed. Far better to declare an audacious goal, and just get on with it, testing hypotheses for change, learning and course-correcting all the time. And maybe changing the goal. From binary messages to complicated ones.

Everyone likes simple messages. Nice and simple.

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And so on. In this light, mitigation might actually be an economically profitable option. This particular reframing has been adopted most extensively in the coordinated market economies of northern Europe and Japan , and as Hajer and Versteeg point out in their chapter, can now also be found very prominently in international negotiations on climate change. But as they also note, there can be a large gap between discourse structuration and discourse institutionalization, where the discourse adopted actually conditions the content of public policies.

A more radical reframing would see national governments adopting resilience rather than economic growth as their core priority see the chapter by Adger et al. Neither coordinated collective action nor discursive reframings can stop at the national level.

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Climate change involves a complex global set of both causal practices and felt impacts, and as such requires coherent global action—or, at a minimum, coordination across some critical mass of global players. Without such coordination, there is substantial p. Enough players doing this will of course result in little in the way of effective action.

Such is the status quo. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was established in to organize negotiations that eventually involved just about all the world's states. But Kyoto failed to deliver much in the way of actual reductions. The world's largest emitter, the United States, did not ratify the agreement, which imposed no obligations at all on developing countries.

So at the time of writing, the world's two largest economies and largest emitters, the USA and China, are not covered by Kyoto. These are also two of the states that cling most tightly to a notion of sovereignty that cannot be diminished by global governance. Even those states that did ratify the Protocol generally fell far short of the commitments they had registered. What happened at the eleventh hour in Copenhagen was that G was supplanted by G2. China and the United States, two of the most problematic participants in the prior negotiations and when it comes to the very idea of global governance in general, produced a Copenhagen Accord with no binding targets for anyone and no enforcement mechanism for the weak targets that were proclaimed.

While most countries agreed to take note of the Accord, few did so with any enthusiasm, or with any intention to do anything much in consequence. Our authors disagree about the best response to this kind of disappointment, and the very weak international climate regime that it leaves in place. Biermann suggests a number of ways to strengthen the regime, including the establishment of a World Environment Organization on a par with the World Trade Organization, a strengthening rather than abandonment of the UNFCCC itself, and a stronger institutionalized role for civil society organizations many of which push for stronger action on the international stage.

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Young suggests institutionalization of fairness principles of a sort that would induce more serious participation from China and key developing countries. China would then have more credibility when it demanded that developed nations commit to more effective emissions reductions.

Young also suggests more attention to intersections with other regimes such as that for international trade in a way that would induce more mitigation, and perhaps an enhanced role for effective minilateralism—negotiation among a small number of key parties.

While at first glance this looks exclusive, that could be ameliorated to the degree representatives of those likely to suffer most from climate change are also at the table. While these and other ideas for its improvement are being canvassed, Paterson in his chapter points out that what is happening in practice is that the international climate p.

Whether in the context of internationally agreed targets and timetables or outside such agreements, emissions trading and offsets grow in prominence, to the point they are poised to dominate global climate governance. This may well continue whether or not such use of markets is ultimately effective in containing climate change. Analysis of the global climate regime might focus on particular deficiencies and proposals for reform, but it is also worth taking a step back to consider the whole idea of a comprehensive, inclusive, negotiated, global approach to climate change mitigation.

Perhaps that is asking more than the international system is capable of delivering. The first three of these concerned only security; the fourth added economics. While comparisons are sometimes made between climate change and war e. Perhaps we need to think in very different terms about the coordination of a global response. It would involve attending to the roles that stakeholder communities, shared norms, evolving discourses, local practices, and regional agreements, could play—while not necessarily renouncing global negotiation in its entirety. The problem is that the pace at which the mechanisms it identifies could change and take effect in positive fashion may be too slow to match the pace at which climate change is arriving.

In addition, governance mechanisms need to be anticipatory rather than reactive when it comes to future change. Governments are not used to acting in this kind of way; nor do more diffuse governance mechanisms necessarily compensate. The complexity of the issues of climate change and society means that an element of arbitrariness is inescapable when breaking down the whole into component areas of scholarship, and then ordering those areas.

The interconnections are many and strong. There are few independent subsystems of scholarship with significant findings that stand on their own. Responding effectively to the challenges of climate change will require coordination of efforts across different ways of looking at the problems. Understanding all the social dimensions of climate change requires us to embrace these complexities and interrelationships. Nevertheless, publishing the contributions between covers requires putting them in a linear order. We have chosen to do as follows. Complexity means that a range of perspectives and discourses can be brought to bear in both the history of climate change and the rest of this Handbook.

The climb up the scientific agenda took place over a century. The climb up the political agenda was slow, but eventually reached a point where climate p. These ascents have been accompanied by changing conceptualizations of climate and the way it plays into social, political, and economic discourses that condition the responses of actors and institutions. The impact of those discourses now itself merits critical scrutiny.

Knowledge claims are processed in politically variable ways. In the face of organized skepticism, conventional ways of communicating science to the public have come unstuck. We know what does not work when it comes to communicating climate change; we know much less about what does work.

Some economists represented here by Mendelsohn reach modest estimates. Much turns not just on technical matters such as choice of a discount rate, but also on what kind of economic paradigm ought to be applied. Even economists who reach relatively small estimates of total costs recognize that particular vulnerable populations such as the rural poor in developing countries and indigenous peoples living in ecosystems at the margins of industrial society may be hit hardest, be it in terms of health, livelihood, or culture.

So costs need to be understood not only in economic terms, but also in broader social and cultural terms. In one sense, it is a matter of the security of collectivities such as nations, populations, and the social and economic systems that support them. Security concerns therefore range from national security to basic human needs.

Justice is in part a matter for philosophical analysis, but can also be used to challenge utilitarian economic analysis, influence international policy discourse, and rally social movements. Such movements are just one kind of relevant public. At an aggregate level public opinion exists in terms of percentages of people concerned about or willing to respond to climate change.

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Only the most engaged participate in movements, which can be organized locally, nationally, and globally, and in networks transcending these levels. The impact of movements in promoting cultural change may however be blunted by psychological and sociological denial mechanisms. Opinion and activism on climate change do not exist in isolation, but are also affected by factors such as economic interests and religious beliefs. The case of China gets special treatment, because of the size and growth of its economy, its authoritarian response to climate issues, and its potentially massive international impact.

The way states are currently organized to facilitate economic growth and, at least in most developed countries, provide social welfare constrains the possibilities for effective action on climate change, and the positions governments can adopt and targets to which they can commit in international negotiations. From the perspective of the governments of the Global South, without developed welfare states and without the history of growth that made them possible, matters look very different indeed. The most extensive experience with such instruments when it comes to climate change is in Europe, so that experience receives special attention.

The redesign of energy systems is high on the list of possible policy initiatives. Our authors examine the role of corporations and consumers in both impeding and facilitating action against climate change. Public and movements, national and subnational governments, producers and consumers all have roles to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation, but much still turns on what happens at the global level.

Our authors look at the problematic history and performance of such governance, the lessons we might draw from existing global regimes, the moral foundations of alternative institutional arrangements, and the role of international law.


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After all of the challenges, opinions, impacts, actors, and responses, the task, of course, is to look forward to adaptation, transition, and rebuilding a society immersed in climate change. The broad scope of this Handbook encompasses a range of issues and approaches beyond the basic science of climate change, from the philosophical to the political, from the psychological to the sociological, from the historical to the geographical, from the economic to the legal.

On how science is disseminated, on how we assign economic value, on how p. As we said at the outset, climate change presents perhaps the most profound and complex challenge to have confronted human social, political, and economic systems. It also presents one of the most profound challenges to the way we understand human responses.

In this collection, we have tried to lay out the variety and complexity of the issues at the intersection of climate change and human society. Our goal has been to be as comprehensive as possible within the limits of space. Boykoff, M. Balance as bias: Global warming and the US prestige press. Global Environmental Change — Find this resource:. Lindblom, C. The market as prison. Journal of Politics — Lovelock, J. Interview with James Lovelock. The Guardian. Rawls, J.

A Theory of Justice. Schneider, S. Washington, DC: National Geographic. Tucker, M. Determine which past lessons and rules apply and which need to be changed. Pick something new, different, and unfamiliar. Put yourself in situations that call for your weaknesses. Find opportunities to develop counter-coping skills e. Break up your work routine when you are blocked. Incorporate dissimilar tasks, activities, and rest breaks when you come to a roadblock.

Examine why you are blocked on a key issue. Ask why these things are holding you back. Look for opportunity to move beyond them, and learn to do something different. Learning from experience, feedback, and other people: Be a student of others.

Adapt what you learn to improve yourself. Learn from bad situations. Be resourceful and use what you can. Determine how the situation came about, learn from any mistakes, and integrate what you learn into future behavior. Learning from courses: Take a strategic course.

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Stretch your thinking to prepare for and anticipate future challenges. Be willing to learn. Be open to learning new lessons and behaviors. Ask many questions, and reflect on what you learn. Anderson, Dean, and Linda S. Ackerman Anderson. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc. Black, J. Stewart, and Hal B. Burke, W. Warner, and William Trahant with Richard Koonce. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, Chowdhury, Subir.

Gutzman, Alexis D. Unforeseen Circumstances.


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