In the News: When it comes to climate change, do we take some economic pain now, or more later?

That’s a key question recently posed by the New York Times in response to a draft report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. With business leaders feeling the economic risk to their operations, all eyes will turn toward next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where an entire day’s agenda will focus on addressing the rising costs of climate change.

The idea that business will help drive urgency in finding solutions to climate change is a common theme at EDF, so I asked our Corporate Partnerships team for their response:

The article states, ‘If there is an alliance of companies that can bite off pieces of the puzzle, it might help.’

Namrita Kapur

“We agree — which is why we have actively been pushing "alliances" of companies to focus on pieces of the puzzle — whether it is building energy efficiency through EDF Climate Corps, addressing supply chain issues through The Sustainability Consortium and Consumer Goods Forum, or driving change through portfolios of Private Equity firms.” Namrita Kapur


In particular, the article focuses on the economics of near-term solutions versus the long-term repercussions of allowing carbon dioxide concentrations to continue growing at present levels. If left unchecked, addressing carbon emissions 15 years from now will be a hugely expensive and unproven technological hurdle.  The time to act is now.


“To turn the corner on carbon emissions and avoid the worst impacts of a warming world requires nothing less than a full-scale transformation of our energy system.  Such a transformation is a huge political, technological and cultural challenge – one that no individual, organization or country can solve on its own.  It will take the leadership and collaboration of people across the system, pulling together toward a common goal.  That's why EDF is working with governments, corporations, and other nonprofits to find smarter ways to power the world.”  Victoria Mills


andrew hutson


“Protecting the world's forests – the lungs of the planet – will be critical to stabilize the climate.  We have the ability to do so while also providing enough food to feed a growing population and expanding middle class.  But we're going to need all hands on deck for this to work – from soy, beef, and palm oil producers changing practices on the ground in Brazil and Indonesia to multinational retailers and brands making good on their promises to only purchase deforestation-free products.  Most of all, we're going to need innovative public-private partnerships, like jurisdictional approaches to forest protection, which seek to preserve ecosystems at the scale of entire states, rather than small parcels.”  Andrew Hutson

Jenny Ahlen


“The impacts from climate change threaten the very systems that provide us with the goods and services we depend upon every day.  Retailers and their supply chains have a major role to play in combating climate change. With all the political inaction, no other sector is better equipped to mitigate so many varied sources of greenhouse gas emissions and do so while also improving the bottom-line of their businesses.  Significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can and are occurring where retailers partner with their suppliers and customers to optimize their supply chains, but we need this to happen more broadly and with a greater sense of urgency if we want to make a meaningful dent in climate change impacts.  That's why EDF has been working with Walmart on transformational projects as part of its goal to eliminate 20 MMT of greenhouse gases from its supply chain.  We believe that the projects initiated as part of this goal will catalyze change across entire industries – helping farmers optimize their fertilizer use, increasing the utilization of recycled materials, improving manufacturing efficiency, and helping customers save energy at home.”  Jenny Ahlen

We are all looking forward to greater engagement and involvement from private sector leaders in pushing near-term solutions to climate change, and we’ll continue to build the business case for immediate action.