Ongoing political debate forces corporate world to lead on climate change

19 March 2013

Researchers at the University of Sydney Business School say a lack of political consensus, and a series of extreme weather events have forced global businesses to engage with climate change as a key strategic risk.

These corporate initiatives will be the focus of an international symposium titled Climate Change: Generating Business and Organisational Responses (PDF, 400KB), to be held at the Business School this week.

"Despite the widespread scientific consensus, ideological rhetoric dominates the global debate on climate change and this is preventing the development of the clear policy that companies need for long term investment," says the Business School's Professor Christopher Wright. "In spite of this, there are signs of significant progress at the international and national corporate levels."

For example, Professor Wright cites the development of new "green" products and services such as hybrid and electric cars, high capacity batteries, wind turbines, solar cells and more efficient jet engines.

He points out that major financial institutions now include "carbon risk" in their lending practices and mark down enterprises that fail to manage these risks.

"Virtually every company in the construction sector offers green construction materials; energy companies are diversifying into renewable electricity generation and insurance companies now focus explicitly on the physical and financial risks of more frequent and intense storms, floods and fires," says Professor Wright.

Andrew Hoffman, who is Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan in the United States, adds that many of the world's major companies are now seeking to mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to changing markets and "the physical consequences of climate change".

However, Professor Hoffman, who is presenting the symposium's keynote lecture as part of the Sydney Ideas lecture series, also warns that in the longer term, corporate innovation requires a clear regulatory structure to thrive and prosper

Event details

What: The Social Sciences and Climate Change: structuring the sources of distrust, a Sydney Ideas lecture by Professor Andy Hoffman

When: 6pm, Wednesday 20 March

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free, registration required

Book now online

Symposium details

What: Climate Change: Generating Business and Organisational Responses (PDF, 400KB)

When: 8.30am to 5pm, Thursday 21 March

Where: Holme Building (MacCalman Cullen Room), Science Road, Camperdown Campus


  • David Schlosberg, University of Sydney
  • John Dryzek, Australian National University
  • Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Western Australia
  • Greg Bourne, Australian Renewable Energy Agency
  • Matthew Bell, Ernst &Young
  • Tim Nelson, AGL
  • Emma Herd, Westpac Institutional Bank
  • Tony Coleman, Lonergan Edwards & Associates Ltd
  • Maurizio Floris, University of Sydney
  • Christopher Wright, University of Sydney
  • Susan Benn & Ken Tann, UTS Business School
  • Sally Russell, Griffin University
  • Andy Hoffman, University of Michigan

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