Davos elite place their bets on climate change

View of the entrance to the Congress Centre where preparations are taking place for the upcoming 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan 15, 2017.
View of the entrance to the Congress Centre where preparations are taking place for the upcoming 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan 15, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • The captains of business and finance gathered in Davos this week will spend a lot of time talking about climate change - and how to make money from it.

The World Economic Forum is devoting 15 sessions of its 2017 annual meeting to climate change, and nine more to clean energy - the most ever on the issues.

For global business leaders, it is not just a question of burnishing their green credentials, but about billions of dollars - maybe even trillions - in potential profits and losses. That is in stark contrast to the view of United States President- elect Donald Trump, who has often ridiculed global warming and promised to withdraw from the global climate accord signed in Paris in 2015.

For industry, climate change cannot be ignored as weather extremes become more costly. The impact of a warming world now touches every facet of the global economy.

Insurers are already pricing in more frequent flooding and droughts; energy giants are shaping their business for a world that is moving away from oil and coal; carmakers are putting real money into electric vehicles; banks want to lend money for renewable electricity projects.

Last year, clean energy investment stood at US$287.5 billion (S$410 billion), data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates. With money-making opportunities rising, traditional climate change advocates - Mr Al Gore and Greenpeace executive director Jennifer Morgan - will mingle in panel discussions with high-powered executives.

They will discuss the nexus between the fight against global warming and business - how to stop climate change and how to profit from it. "Climate change is material and central for many companies and their boards," said Mr Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnership at the World Economic Forum. "Climate change is a core part of the growth agenda."

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Davos elite place their bets on climate change'. Print Edition | Subscribe