DOUGLAS, Isle of Man, Dec. 21, 2022 ‘Genuine innovation’ for businesses facing climate change is very difficult to reconcile with existing profit-making strategies, and may consign ‘the vast majority of your existing business model [to] the bin,’ announces cleantech founder Chris Caldwell in an article published today (‘Innovation and Profit in the Climate Age’).
‘If your entire model of historic profitability rests upon cheap carbon [and] untaxed pollution…then it doesn’t matter how many transition units you set up, new green products you create, or PR firms you hire,’ according to Caldwell, who is critical of the idea that firms can simply add ‘sustainable’ options to existing product lines. ‘Climate change isn’t just a new vertical you can silo off…[it] is in everything.’ Instead, the green entrepreneur insists that firms must radically overhaul their operations from the ground up to meet the challenge of decarbonisation.
Danone: a cautionary tale
Caldwell points to Danone under ex-CEO Emmanuel Faber as an example of the challenge of pivoting traditional businesses towards sustainability. Widely lauded for his entreprise à mission approach to managing the agricultural conglomerate at the time – including the introduction of carbon-adjusted earnings-per-share – in 2021 Faber was toppled by a shareholder group critical of his new direction.
Coherency is key
Caldwell was clear that he ‘believes in ambidexterity,’ as a strategic approach, but only when it offers genuine coherence throughout. ‘It has to be genuine, evidence-based, and irreversible,’ he demands, in order to meet the irreversible fact of the climate crisis itself.
An entrepreneur and CEO with twenty years’ experience in the cleantech industry, Chris Caldwell built his own company United Renewables on a whole-of-business climate strategy, as a global constructor and operator of renewable energy infrastructure across wind, tidal, solar and anaerobic technologies. Outside of this role, Caldwell is also a leading voice in the sustainable business community, as host of the fast-growing podcast Conversations on Climate.
Conversations on Climate brings world-leading thinkers from business and academia together to share their expertise on the subject of climate change. Previous guests include Sir Andrew Likierman, Julio Dal Poz, Professor Jean-Pierre Benoît, Professor Ioannou, Tara Schmidt, and Professor Dan Cable.
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COMPANY United Renewables