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WBUR's CitySpace To Explore Business Opportunities From Climate Change

On March 5, WBUR’s CitySpace will launch a series of events highlighting what businesses are doing, can do, and should do to confront climate change. Each will focus on business in a particular sector, including real estate, food, transportation, and energy, and will feature an impressive set of speakers.

Speakers include a who’s who of local and national leaders, including Bryan Koop, Executive VP of Boston Properties; Kevin Butt, Sustainability Director of Toyota North America; and David Perry, CEO of Indigo Agriculture. Small companies that cater to new consumer preferences like Clover Food Lab, and environmental groups like Union of Concerned Scientists, are also on the program.

“The untold story is that climate change offers opportunities as well as risks, and business is already changing,” said Harvard Business School Professor Michael Toffel, who chairs the School’s Business & Environment Initiative.

The series grew out of discussions between WBUR managers and faculty from Harvard Business School and Boston University Questrom School about some of the unexpected ways that businesses are innovating due to climate change.

Organizers recognize that business action is insufficient to address the problem overall. A session scheduled for Earth Day will address business and climate change policy.

“Business offers important answers,” said Kira Fabrizio, a professor at Boston University Questrom School. “While business is a big part of the problem, it is also the main source of new strategies that will make a difference.”

“Not all of the news about climate change is doom and gloom. Working with faculty from these two schools has allowed us to showcase how this problem is sparking new products and services, from lab-grown meat to off-shore wind,” said WBUR’s Barbara Moran, senior producing editor of Earthwhile, a new vertical dedicated to reporting on environmental issues. “CitySpace is an ideal venue to reach a broad audience.” Tickets are available at wbur.org. The full program appears below.

STEPPING UP: BUSINESS IN THE ERA OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Open for Business?
March 5, 2019
In deciding where to locate, managers take into account proximity to workers, customers, and infrastructure. But climate change—and associated sea level rise, extreme weather, drought, wildfires, and political and security risk—is changing the calculus of where businesses set up shop and how they manage their supply chains. What new costs is climate change posing for large manufacturers that buy inputs and sell products in a global marketplace? Will businesses of the future retreat from the coast to areas less prone to climate disruption? What will those shifts mean for coastal cities like Boston?
Panelists:
• David Cash, Dean, School of Public Policy, UMass Boston
• Bryan Koop, Executive VP, Boston Properties
• Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director Climate and Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists

Food, Diet, and Climate
April 2, 2019
The food industry contributes a lot to the climate change problem, but it also offers solutions. From sustainable supply chains to plant-based burgers with the taste and texture of beef and meat-like protein grown in the lab, new foods are exploding onto restaurant menus and family dinner plates. What challenges are companies facing as they introduce these new foods into the marketplace? How fast can we expect these new foods to catch on? And what are companies that are known for serving traditional meat doing to reduce their carbon footprint? Is big agribusiness getting on board with these changes--or standing in the way?
Panelists:
• Bruce Friedrich, Founder and CEO, Good Food Institute
• Ayr Muir, Founder and CEO of Clover Food Lab
• David Perry, Founder and CEO, Indigo Agriculture
• Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, President, Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, former VP of Cargill

Climate Politics and Business
April 22, 2019 (Earth Day)
In the United States, some business interests have advocated for delay and rollback of policies aimed at protecting the climate, and the result has been little progress at the federal level. Today more and more business leaders are voicing support of some form of carbon tax or other mechanism to put a price on carbon. What is driving industry action and where will it lead? What is the role for business leaders in climate policy?
Panelists:
• William Eacho, Partnership for Responsible Growth
• Mindy Lubber, CEO, Ceres
• Auden Schendler, Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company

The Road Map of the Future: Transportation
May 7, 2019
In Massachusetts, the transportation sector generated more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, and the pressure is on to make improvements. The specter of climate change is shaking up the business strategies of traditional automakers and giving a big boost to alternatives like peer-to-peer car sharing, biking, and scooters. What will the transportation system of the future look like? What are the barriers and how are upstart companies tackling them? How are big car companies responding?
Panelists:
• Kevin Butt, General Manager - Regional Environmental Sustainability Director, Toyota North America
• Adam Gromis, Public Policy Manager, Sustainability & Environmental Impact, Uber
• Caroline Samponaro, Head of Bike, Scooter & Pedestrian Policy, Lyft

Energy Transitions
June 4, 2019
We cannot confront climate change without wholesale changes in our sources of energy. What companies are leading the transition to fossil-fuel-free energy, what barriers are they facing, and how are they tackling those barriers? How are traditional electric utility shifting their business strategies to accommodate or even promote new, cleaner sources of energy? And how are new entrants to this old sector disrupting the electricity industry with clean energy innovations?
Panelists:
• Peter Fox-Penner, Director, Institute for Sustainable Energy, and Professor of Practice, Questrom School of Business
• Abigail Ross Hopper, President & CEO at Solar Energy Industries Association
• Francis Slingsby, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Orsted

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