Mapping the climate change industry-an ethical corporation special report

Climate change has gone from being a marginal issue to being at the forefront of business leaders’ minds. The scientific evidence has been growing for years and 2007’s IPCC reports appear to have settled the debate about whether man-made climate change is happening. However, the issue’s move to the centre stage has come about thanks to a range of disparate events, including hurricanes Rita and Katrina, which devastated the Gulf of Mexico coastline of the US in 2005 and were attributed, wrongly or rightly, to climate change. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film “An Inconvenient Truth” brought the subject to a mass audience, while “The Economics of Climate Change” by Sir Nicholas Stern, helped explain why action now was vital, rather than leaving future generations to deal with the problem. The establishment of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, also in 2005, is starting to focus minds on the cost of carbon, but there is a case for saying that it was another event in the same year that really focused the minds of the business community – the launch of GE’s Ecomagination initiative. When a company as resolute as GE announces that there is money to be made in providing environmental solutions, other companies sit up and take notice. The companies highlighted in our top 20 cover a range of economic sectors, illustrating that the climate change challenge is one that affects every section of the business community. They are by no means the only companies in those sectors that are taking action, but they have all taken a lead on the basis that early action is not only vital for society as a whole but for the future performance of their business. The opportunity picks show that it is not just the big beasts that are taking action – many of the most interesting and innovative technologies are emerging from smaller companies and some of the biggest growth stories will come from there, too. The list also demonstrates that climate change benefits do not just come from the obvious areas such as wind turbines. Demand for products as diverse as highefficiency ball bearings, smart meters, low energy computer monitors, financial services and household goods is driven by climate change.

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