Can capitalists save the planet?
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We’ve seen plenty of companies make pledges to reduce emissions and increase investments in climate solutions. How real are these commitments?
Someone who has been thinking — and acting — on this topic is Michael O’Leary, the managing director of Engine No. 1, the activist investment firm that won three seats on the board of Exxon Mobile.
“I think if we had made a purely environmental argument, kind of a save-the-polar bears argument on why we need a new leadership at Exxon, I don’t think we’ve been successful. We had to make the economic argument, the argument that this is what what was best for the long term of the company,” he said.
On the show today, we’ll discuss the role of corporate America in the fight against climate change and what it really means to have environmental social governance, or ESG, goals incorporated into business strategies.
O’Leary, who is also the co-author of “Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism,” said there was a way to build an economy better prepared for climate change.
“Ultimately, our economy has transformed before, it can transform again. But given the sort of capitalist society we live in, it’s going to require capitalists to require shareholders to be part of that movement, if not leading it.”
We’ll also discuss more dire news about how climate change threatens our food supply, and another sign that “capitalism doesn’t care if you live or die.”
Plus, listeners react to last week’s episode with social psychologist Amy Cuddy on “pandemic flux syndrome” and an answer to the Make Me Smart question that’s giving us all the feels.
When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week, we’re explaining food deserts, bicycle commuting and the possible end of open office workspaces. You can hear all our explainers here. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.
Here’s everything we talked about:
- “How the 137 million Americans who own stock can force climate action” from Vox
- “Hedge fund Engine No. 1 wins at least 2 Exxon board seats in climate push” from Marketplace
- “Do corporate pledges to fight climate change go far enough?” from Marketplace
- “An ESG Reckoning Is Coming” by Michael O’Leary from Harvard Business Review
- “U.S. Crops Wither Under Scorching Heat” from The Wall Street Journal
- “Delta Variant Outbreaks in Sparsely Vaccinated Asian Countries Disrupt Production” from WSJ
- “Stocks Rise, With S&P 500 Poised for Record Close” from the WSJ
- “Cryptocurrency Companies Are Leaving China in ‘Great Mining Migration’” from WSJ
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