Looking beyond reputational risks for the clean energy transition

Kate Gordon, senior advisor of nonpartisan think tank the Paulson Institute, wants you to look at the granular level to understand the business risks and opportunities when designing for the clean energy transition. 

"When it comes to climate change, we are in a new era," she said. "An era where companies are taking action in their own self-interest." 

Look closely at what's happening in the news: Phoenix canceled flights due to hot weather, and Las Vegas businesses are planning construction at night due to unbearable heat. Sea level rise in Hawaii will wipe out the tourism industry. These events represent the "clear risks to doing nothing."

The opportunities within the clean energy transition, however, are plenty: resource efficiency; energy security; new products and services; and business resilience, to name a few. 

Climate leaders need to learn the language and motivation of business leaders to make their case, however. And they need to embrace the three pillars of decarbonization: switch from fuel to electric sources of energy; decarbonizing electricity; and energy efficiency.

"If we act now, we can still avoid most of the worst impacts" of climate change, Gordon said.