Looking on the bright side of climate change, think of all the money corporations can make

(The Guardian, 28 Jan 2019) A new report reveals how Apple, among others, is already exploring the business possibilities that will come from the environmental crisis. Something to be cheerful about as the ice melts …

You know what I love about capitalism? Its optimism. Even in the direst of circumstances, it is always able to find a silver lining.

Take climate change, for example. After weird weather and ominous warnings of more to come, many of us are freaking out about an environmental apocalypse. Indeed, a new poll shows record numbers of Americans are worried about climate change and, after last year’s heatwave, concerns about the issue have soared in Britain.

Now, it seems that big companies are equally worried about global warming, but they are thinking about the future with cool heads. Rather than being consumed by doom and gloom, or considering the idea that we should curb consumerism, corporations have realised climate change is an exciting business opportunity. You can see evidence of this in recent disclosures to CDP, a UK-based environmental reporting NGO that surveys companies on the “risks and opportunities” they face because of changing weather patterns. The 2018 disclosures, reported by Bloomberg last week, provide a fascinating insight into how some of the world’s largest corporations are, as Bloomberg puts it in a headline, “Getting Ready to Monetize Climate Change”.

Let’s start with the pharmaceutical industry, which is particularly well placed to profit from our dystopian future. As Merck notes in its disclosure to CDP, climate change may lead to “expanded markets for products for tropical and weather-related diseases including water-borne illness”. AbbVie sees similar opportunities, saying that its “immunology product line could see an increase in sales” as a result of more extreme conditions. And Eli Lilly, another large pharmaceutical company, cites research showing climate change may increase the risk of diabetes by “curtailing physical activity, disrupting traditional food supplies, and increasing food insecurity”. While that is sad and all, the upside for Eli Lilly is a potential increase in demand for its diabetes products.

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The Guardian, 28 Jan 2019: Looking on the bright side of climate change, think of all the money corporations can make