21 Apr 2017

Harvard Business School Celebrates Climate Week


April 24-28 is Climate Week at Harvard University. The Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) invites you to attend events going on throughout Harvard as well as a discussion at HBS of how Harvard’s Endowment Is Thinking about Climate Change on Monday, April 24.

HBS faculty address the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change through teaching, case writing, and research. We have captured here some recent videos, interviews, and publications that highlight that work. A more comprehensive listing of faculty work on this subject can be found on BEI’s website.

In the Classroom

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Technology & Operations Management: Climate Change Challenge - More than 900 first-year students in the Technology & Operations Management (TOM) class were challenged to consider some big questions around climate change, write and post their responses to an open blog, and consider the input and additional insights of their peers by reading and responding to their blog posts. Students came together in class to participate in a dynamic exchange, and ultimately left informed, impassioned, and committed to helping solve this critical challenge.

Understanding Climate Change

Climate Change in 2017: Implications for Business - This note provides general information about climate change and its implications for business. Included is an overview of climate change science and a number of its impacts, including rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and extreme weather, pressure on water and food, political and security risks, human health risks, and impact on wildlife and ecosystems. Next, responses to climate change are outlined, including improvements in energy efficiency, moving away from fossil fuels, changes in land use and agriculture practices, and geoengineering. The note concludes with the debate over who should pay and how much should be spent to mitigate and adapt to climate change and the implications for the private sector.

Harvard Speaks on Climate Change - Faculty from throughout Harvard share their perspectives on this challenging problem.

Climate Change 101 - BEI has gathered a set of key resources to explain the science and impacts of climate change.

Sustainable Business Practice

Wal-Mart: Changing the World for Better or Worse?

Can big companies fix big problems? Are they responsible for doing so? As the third-largest employer in the world, any move Wal-mart makes reverberates around the globe. Yet despite its many successes and innovations, particularly in terms of sustainability, the company often faces criticism for its business practices. Professor Rebecca Henderson discusses what she calls the paradigmatic case: how Wal-mart takes huge risks, makes great strides, and demonstrates how companies are one of the few instruments humanity has for changing the world at scale, for better or for worse.

A Better World Through Brewing

Since brewing is a marketing-driven business, finding ways to differentiate a beverage from its competition is crucial. Heineken’s chief marketing officer took a novel approach: take the complicated processes of production and distribution and make them interesting and important to the consumer. Professor Forest Reinhardt explains how a big, sophisticated company used small details, from trucking routes to the color of refrigerators, to put its commitment to the environment to work on its behalf.

Water, Agriculture, and Climate Change

Stemming the Tide of the World’s Water Shortage - Though more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, access to clean water is quickly becoming one of the world’s most pressing problems. Harvard Business School faculty members John Macomber and Forest Reinhardt are members of the School’s Business and Environment Initiative, whose research focuses on the intersection of and interplay between nature and business. Both have written extensively on the social and economic implications of water scarcity, including the Mexico City water shortage, the California water crisis, drought in Australia, and desalination efforts in San Diego. Below, they summarize the high stakes, far-reaching consequences, and best bets at solving water shortage issues.

The American Food Paradox: Growing Obese and Going Hungry

Agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. But in the U.S., 40 percent of the food made and purchased each year is thrown away. One third of the US population is obese, even as 50 million Americans often struggle to find enough to eat. Professor Jose Alvarez discusses how the former president of Trader Joe’s is boiling these difficult problems down into one elegant solution in a pilot store in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and blazing a trail toward sustainability in the process.

A Hard Sell: Bringing Cultured Beef to Market

Reducing beef consumption could cut global warming gases significantly. Tissue culture beef could revolutionize the meat industry. But how do you market against the “yuck factor?"

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