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Businesses lead the way on climate change

branson.jpgLately it seems like the part of the newspaper most saturated with global warming reporting is not the science or politics section, but rather the business pages.

So we read, for example, about Sir Richard Branson’s extraordinary $3 billion dollar pledge to fight global warming. Branson’s pledge isn’t properly speaking a donation. He hopes to earn a return on his investments in new energy sources, including his recent funding of Vinod Khosla’s ethanol venture.

Branson unveiled his pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative, and while his was by far the largest purse on display at the conference, it wasn’t even half of the astounding $7.3 billion in funds raised. Even Rupert Murdoch chipped in $500,000 to address global warming. (Murdoch’s gift is not as surprising as it sounds: this summer, Murdoch’s News Corp invited Al Gore to deliver his climate change talk, and the Murdoch-chaired British satellite TV company BSkyB earlier announced that it was going carbon neutral.)

Elsewhere we find out that a coaltion made up of environmentalists, Yale University, and Marsh, a private risk and insurance group, is preparing a series of “sustainable governance forums to give [corporate directors] an overview of the financial, legal, business and investor implications of climate change.”

This is the type of effort we’d expect from environmentalists, but why is Marsh involved in the effort? “‘We advise companies on a whole spectrum of risks, be it terrorism or climate change, and this is a huge opportunity to help us grow our business,’ said Brian Storms, chairman of Marsh.”

In other words, business has as much to lose as everyone else from the climate change problem. And, as Branson and others have figured out, also a lot to gain by pushing forward the solutions.

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