Climate change—and efforts to mitigate it—are creating an increasingly uncertain future for businesses. The long-term effects of a warming climate are enormously difficult to predict. In the near term, however, new policies, technologies, and market preferences are already altering the competitive landscape of entire industries. That is creating opportunities for companies that effectively produce and manage low-carbon innovations in their markets—and threatening those that, by choice or circumstance, do not.
A lot of the public conversation around climate change—and the market opportunities it creates—has made it look like the province of venture capital-backed startups pushing disruptive technologies. As Solyndra's fate suggests, this is misguided. The bulk of the opportunities will be tapped by estabished companies that can recognize them and move fast to gain market leadership.
Working with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, I’ve just completed an study of companies that have already successfully developed and launched new low-carbon strategic initiatives.
The resulting report, to be released in October, documents the challenges and best practices of these companies, distilling insights for other businesses pursuing low-carbon innovation strategies. Innovation is challenging regardless of company or industry but, as the study found, low-carbon innovation has distinct challenges reflecting the distinct nature of the technologies, opportunities, and environments involved.
As Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change aptly put it, “Innovation is key to solving the climate change problem, and businesses are the engines of innovation.” It’s hoped that this report, and the lessons it contains, will provide guidance for companies that recognize the shifting policies, technologies, and market preferences which are recasting their own competitive landscape.
It’s been said often that, in the face of climate change, there is no silver bullet, only silver buckshot. Our best hope for reducing carbon emissions in the near term lies in the pursuit of innovations from firms in a wide range of industries and markets. This silver buckshot will bring not only incremental improvements across many different technologies, but also the seeds of major breakthroughs as organizations and entire industries reorganize around the new opportunities and challenges of climate change.
Stay tuned for more information as the release date approaches.