of the Himalayas
are greening, as climate change melts glaciers and vegetation grows in
their place. The snowy slopes of Davos greened a little, too, this week as the
financial and political elite once again met at the World Economic Forum to
discuss their futures and ours.
to this year’s conference is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World
— a nod to the assertion
from CEOs that businesses should cater to all stakeholders, not just
shareholders. The thematic choice was already a given, as discussion on climate
change stole the show in 2019.
Last year, British
naturalist Sir David Attenborough warned
the crowd that the stable, mild and pleasant Holocene period is over, while
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg implored
leaders to panic and “act as if the house was on fire.”
later, Thunberg was
back to remind Davos the house is still on fire; Al Gore, who’s
campaigned on climate change since before Thunberg was born, tried to rally the
troops by comparing the climate crisis to Dunkirk
and 9/11; while Prince Charles advocated
for “taxes, policies and regulations” that spur sustainable action.
one might actually work. Last year the IMF recommended
a levy on carbon emissions at $75/ton to keep global warming beneath 2°C and, this week, Refinitiv calculated
that would amount to a $4 trillion fine for global business — roughly 4% of
closed doors at Davos, says BBC journalist Nik Gowing, business leaders recognize
the financial imperative of going green. “Sustainability is no longer niche.
The price of unsustainable use of natural resources is painfully obvious,” says
one. “It is a myth if you invest in sustainability, performance will be worse,”
On stage at Fortune events and elsewhere, CEOs have said much of the same. More frequently than before, companies are setting ambitious sustainability goals. However, many business leaders don’t rank climate change among the top ten risks to business.
So maybe the business community at large isn’t openly embracing sustainability, but they are at least starting to get close.