Last month at BSR, we expanded our call for business leadership on climate change with the launch of our updated report “Creating an Action Agenda for Private-Sector Leadership on Climate Change.” All sectors must commit to sustained climate action if we are to limit global warming to 2°C, and companies will play a critical role in this. Manufacturers account for about half of global greenhouse gas emissions, either through industrial activity or through their products, including the vehicles, power plants, and other goods that power the global economy. Because of that, these companies have a particularly important role in reducing emissions. 

Our 2014 climate report noted: “As an engine of innovation, business creates new technologies, products, and services that will catalyze a step change in efficiency…And business can take these innovations to scale to support change that will happen faster than if governments and civil society acted alone.”

As we detail in case studies in our 2015 report, many companies are already acting. For instance, many manufacturing companies have invested in new technologies and other innovations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Examples, both from our report and elsewhere, include:

As with any business venture, there is risk and uncertainty. Some efforts may fail. Others may take a long time to generate a return on investment. Henry Ford went bankrupt twice before founding Ford Motor Company, and the Toyota Prius took 15 years from original concept to reach profitability.

The important point is that a set of sustainable technology investments will succeed. New products, new services, and new production techniques will be born. Companies that harness brilliant minds to develop new solutions are most likely to be industry leaders in the future. And thinking for the long term about sustainable technologies and the market opportunities they provide is vital to overcoming the challenge of climate change.