Climate change, corporate governance and global inequality

Sixth form economics and politics students have been studying climate change, global governance, and global inequality. How apt that staff and students should receive an invitation from Professor Ron Beadle and the North East Initiative on Business Ethics Ltd to attend an evening seminar with Paul Polman.  Paul is Co-founder of IMAGINE, Chair of the International Chambers of Commerce and the B-Team, and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact, after being the CEO of Unilever for ten years.  A fantastic presentation was followed by Q&A, a filming debut for Sarah Larmour and Jonathan Marran, and a final selfie with Paul.

 

Have you ever considered that climate change and global inequality go hand-in-hand?  The gini-coefficient, a measure of inequality, is rising in every nation across the globe.  Paul suggested there are 4 key challenges to be tackled if we are to address the issue of rising global inequality:

  1. Decarbonise: reduce the $5.3trn annual financial cost that arises from climate change;
  2. Create a circular economy: Earth Overshoot Day – the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year – is occurring earlier and earlier. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A circular economy would enable the human economy to operate within Earth’s ecological limits;
  3. Provide space: rebalance the financial markets which have become too powerful. Make them subservient to the real economy; and
  4. Reconfigure the tax system: ensure that it is not the case that only the wealthiest can reduce their tax liabilities to almost 0%!

The cost of not acting is greater than the cost of acting; however, the private sector needs to plug the financial hole, to the sum of approximately $2trn per annum.  All it takes is a lot of human willpower!