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When writing anything about climate change — and particularly about climate risk — I often hear back about the need to mention “opportunities.” The same goes for sustainability. Apparently, the only risks we can hope to manage, and the only things we should consider “sustainable” from a business perspective, are things that make or save companies money.
This has always struck me as odd, given that many of the environmental problems we’re grappling with are generally recognized as attributable to the existence of economic externalities. Broadly speaking, the whole topic of sustainability (and climate change) has evolved from the recognition that we need to deal with nonmonetized externalities. That being the case, how can it be true that everything we do to solve those problems has to make sense without having monetized those very externalities?