ASP Chair of the Business Council and founder and CEO of Risk Cooperative penned an article for the Harvard Business Review entitled If You Think Fighting Climate Change Will Be Expensive, Calculate the Cost of Letting It Happen. The article disparages the notion that investing in climate change and agreements such as the Paris Agreement are detrimental to the economy and instead presents an argument of the potential for economic opportunities for such an investment.
Disparte argues that climate change has a negative effect on the economy and instances of extreme weather have led to millions of dollars in damages that directly impede the economic activities of an area. Hurricane Sandy, for example, led to $68 billion in costs, second to only Hurricane Katrina. Extreme weather patterns disrupt the lives of workers and their subsequent places of employment. Furthermore, Disparte contends that climate change is a critical geostrategic issue that can contribute to dramatic upheavals and social unrest, specifically in the cases of the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War.
The article also presents the idea that climate change directly impacts people’s contributions to the economy on a producer and consumer level, such as the shipment of goods and the purchase of those goods at stores. Furthermore, rising temperatures contribute to the spread of diseases through mosquitos, as in the case of Zika, which can negatively impact tourist sectors of countries like Puerto Rico.
However, Disparte concludes his article on an optimistic note with economic data that illustrates that the renewable energy industry is a burgeoning sector with 400,000 jobs alone in the solar sector that will continue to provide sustainable business in the future. He introduces this notion of “Climate Robber Barrons”, the potential group of billionaires-independent to politics-that could accumulate great sums of money through investments in renewable energy sources.
As the US breaks away from the Paris Agreeement, Disparte urges change from outside of Washington: “While the official U.S. seat at the climate change table may have been shorted, parallel leadership can show the world that the U.S. is going long on climate change.” This has already been apparent with Michael Bloomberg’s promise to donate $15 million towards the US gap in UN funding following the exit of the agreement. Other CEOs, Disparte hopes, will follow suit with both economic and environment ambitions.