by Dr. Sanjay Patnaik
Scientific research has provided clear evidence that anthropogenic climate change will become one of the most important challenges for mankind in the next century. Recent trends indicate unequivocally that many of the expected physical consequences of climate change are already occurring in various parts of the world (e.g., the melting of ice in the Polar Regions etc.). Our current economic system – highly dependent on carbon-intensive forms of energy production – will have to undergo significant changes if we want to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects.
One of the most important roles for any mitigation and adaption efforts will fall on companies as they are our main organizational unit for conducting economic activities. Not only will firms have to carefully assess the risks associated with climate change, but innovative companies will be able to generate and exploit new opportunities that arise because of climate change. This is particularly relevant for investors who can foster the development of low-carbon technologies through the targeted innovative deployment of capital. While regulatory measures to establish a price for carbon will be crucial to provide necessary external incentives, private capital will play an even more important role in helping our economy adapt to climate change and foster mitigation efforts.
In Panel One of the 8th Annual IGEL Conference on April 22nd, we will explore how capital and smart investments in new technologies can become crucial tools for tackling the challenges presented by climate change. A distinguished panel of experts and thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds will provide their views on a range of topics such as what risks firms will face because of climate change, what role capital should play in addressing climate change and what business opportunities related to climate change are most promising for innovative investors and entrepreneurs. The theme of the panel aims to highlight that climate change can be as much an opportunity as a challenge and that firms will have to conduct a proper assessment of risks and potential benefits that arise from climate change if they want to remain competitive in a future low-carbon economy.
Sanjay Patnaik is a Visiting research Scholar at the Wharton School and an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Public Policy at the George Washington University.