The head of $19bn conglomerate Mahindra has told the World Economic Forum at Davos that businesses shouldn’t look upon climate change as a burden, but rather a $6trn opportunity, comparable to the introduction of the original car manufacturing industry.
“Climate change is the next century’s biggest financial and business opportunity,” Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, a $19 billion conglomerate, told the forum.
“Why on earth are we talking about this as a compulsion or a burden?” he asked the audience. The idea that companies face a trade-off between improving the climate and their growth or profits is a “myth”, he added.
“Everything our group of companies has done to try and improve energy (consumption) or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has given us a return,” he said.
“We have to dispel the idea that there is a trade-off (for business),” said Mahindra, who is co-chair of a climate action summit taking place in California in September.
Meanwhile India is hoping to become the first big world power where all cars on its roads are electric, as part of its efforts to combat severe atmospheric pollution.
On Wednesday, Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, told the WEF a new generation is ramping up pressure on asset managers to put money into investments with a strong environmental agenda and to push companies to play a bigger role in addressing climate change.
“People are beginning to realise this problem is too big for governments alone to deal with…. Essentially corporations have to become part of this solution,” he said.
“We’re about to see the largest wealth transfer in the history of humanity. You have a new generation of clients… who simply care more about these issues,” he added.
Former US Vice-President told the gathering, “More important than changing the light bulbs is changing the policies, changing the laws,” adding that fossil fuel subsidies total some $5.3trn a year.
Gore said many jurisdictions lobbyists for the industry have “gotten lawmakers to put up obstacles to the installation of solar and wind.”
“We need to convince every country in the world” to increase their commitments to cut emissions and “to save humanity’s future”, he said.