New business leadership is needed during this crisis to innovate and fight the climate change

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New business leadership is needed during this crisis to innovate and fight the climate change

  • In an increasingly uncertain world, leaders have to learn to navigate simultaneous crises.
  • Excelling in turbulent times requires business leaders to prioritize, work at the pace and provide a clear and convincing vision.
  • Leaders must be their arm of communication, delivering their message endlessly and consistently to ensure it is heard.

In today’s world, one thing is sure: uncertainty, a status that has emerged as the defining characteristic of our time. For decades, much of the world enjoyed relatively stable economic and social gains. As a global collective, we have experienced better living standards, better transport and communications, better civil liberties for more of the world than before, and better life expectancy and public health. New technologies and a movement towards freer trade brought many people to the global economy, creating expanded and robust economic flows.

But today, much of this economic logic is being disrupted. First, the pandemic and then the invasion of Ukraine presented the world with the most significant set of challenges since World War II. And now, partly as a result of these two crises but also driven by long-term trends, the world faces strong headwinds, likely to slow down growth and create significant challenges for leaders worldwide. New bold approaches to productivity, supply, consumption, and leisure are required. They are being adopted at a surprising speed as several other disruptive forces accelerate and become increasingly evident.

Business leaders must be bold and advocate for real change within their companies. Turning ESG risks into sustainable opportunities, mitigating negative impacts, or providing new standards for better performance are just a few examples of actions that could be taken to respond strategically to new environments.

For example, in the transition to a neutral carbon economy in the context of austerity, leaders need to be strategic to deploy clean technologies toward innovation and pilot new technologies that are less material intensive. Although not yet proven at scale, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are becoming economically viable. At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have identified hydrogen and CCS as necessary components of the green transition in recent reports. As these technologies seem closer to bearing fruit, investment in this sector will become more attractive to governments and investors.

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