The Business of Climate Change

Business-Leadership-on-Climate-Action

[This post is a fictitious story and not real! No offences to the names cited. All said or written to be taken in humor]

My Professor friend called me on Sunday morning. “Would you like to come to Mr. Ambani’s house for a breakfast meeting? The topic of discussion is Climate Change and Mr. Ambani wants me to facilitate the discussions. I want you to join as my assistant and take down the notes.  And sorry for this short notice”

“Of course count me in – Who else is joining?” I asked with all excitement.

Well Professor said “The invitations have been sent to select top honchos of India Inc. This includes biggies like Kiran Shaw Mazumdar, Naina Kidwai, N. Narayan Murthy, Anand Mahindra, Ratan Tata, Rana Kapoor and Kumarmangalam Birla just to name a few. Some politicians are also invited like Sharad Pawar as these leaders are more of business men and actually part of the industry.

The leaders are unhappy with Government of India (GoI) the way climate negotiations are handled. They feel that the industry is practically neglected and advice is taken mainly from Economists who are from Delhi and live close to JNU campus and from retired Indian bureaucrats who are sour as they could not get foreign postings. There is no business perspective”

“Meet me at the entrance of Mr. Ambani’s residence. The code word is 247. You will need to punch in this number correctly and only then the door will open”

Why 247? I asked

Don’t you know? Professor said. 247 corresponds to three scenarios of 20 , 4and 70 rise in the global mean temperatures.

The Professor then educated me on the significance of 2,4 and 7.

Two degrees: The United Nations framework convention on climate change aims to avoid potentially dangerous climate change and has adopted a long-term goal of keeping global average warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. (2rise will be crossed at 60% probability by year 2040 in the worst case)

Four degrees: The recent IPCC report concluded that “global climate change risks are high to very high with global mean temperature increase of 4°C or more above preindustrial levels. The impacts could include substantial species extinction, large risks to global and regional food security, and the combination of high temperature and humidity compromising normal human activities, including growing food or working outdoors in some areas for parts of the year (4rise will be crossed at 60% probability by year 2080 as the worst case)

Seven degrees: There has been much less research focusing on the impacts at higher temperatures but limited studies suggest the possibility of even greater impacts, with a rise in temperature of around 7°C potentially giving rise to extreme heat events in excess of human physiological tolerance in some regions. (70  rise will be crossed at 60% probability by year 2200)

Professor added “Recognizing the importance of 2,4 and 7, I told Mr. Ambani to choose 247 as the secret entry code as it would remind him of the climate change and its implications every day. Not only just him, but the 600 staff who work in his house will think of climate change whenever they punch this secret code. I was told that the staff have now installed the same secret code at the door locks in their houses. Number 247 is in fact spreading in the town as the climate sensitive secret code. My only worry is that it won’t anymore remain a secret code if it spreads too much. I am now thinking of another number”

I was always curious about Mr. Ambani’s residence on the Pedar Road. Antilia as it is called is a name given of a mythical island in the Atlantic. (Apparently this name was chosen by Mr. Ambani as he wanted to remember the threat to the islands of the Atlantic of submergence due to sea level rise). Antilia is believed to be worth $1 billion USD today and is deemed to be the world’s second most expensive residential property- after Buckingham Palace.

Ambani_Building

The structure of Antlia was designed to survive an 8-Richter scale earthquake. But to Mr. Ambani, making a building resilient to the earthquake was something rather trivial. Few know that Antilia incorporates features to withstand risks due to Climate change. The risks addressed include extreme events that could happen in Mumbai such as floods (remember 2006?), cyclones, tsunamis and the like. For Antilia, these risks were considered both in isolation as well as in combination. This feature was implemented by my Professor friend – something not even thought by President Obama for his White House in the United States. What a pity!

When Professor explained, I realized why the building profile and architecture of Antilia was ugly and an eye sore as the science of climate risk adaptation and mitigation required weird shapes of architecture and absurd floor heights. For instance, Antilia has 27 floors with extra-high ceilings (other buildings of equivalent height could have had as many as 60 floors).  The critics however do not understand the secret i.e. a unique risk insulation of Antilia from climate change.

The breakfast meeting began with few opening remarks by Mr. Ambani stressing the need to discuss business implications due to climate change. We need to change he said. (Later I realized that what he actually meant was We need the change. This must be a typo made by his personal assistant in preparing the breakfast speech)

Professor then gave a summary presentation largely drawn from the report “Climate Change  – A Risk Assessment” written by David King, Daniel Schrag, Zou Dady, Qi Ye and Arunabha Ghosh” (See http://ceew.in/pdf/DK-DS-ZD-QY-AG%20-%20Climate-%20Change-A%20-Risk-%20Assessment-6Jul15%20.pdf )

The report indicated that the temperatures in North India are going to be on the rise causing severe heat stress. In the 40C rise scenario, there would be 80% probability that a northern Indian would encounter heat that would prevent core body temperature from falling down to normal (i.e. 370C) during eight hours of rest at night.  This would lead to affecting person’s sleapability. Such a heat stress would also mean a reduction of around 40% in the workability. Further, there is about a 40% chance that individuals in northern India will not be able to participate in competitive outdoor activities in summertime when global average temperatures have risen on average by 10 C compared to the present. With 40 C of warming, this probability will be around 80-90% in northern India.

Mr.  Sharad Pawar said that this would mean that the business of ICL and the likes of BCCI will be affected in the States of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Union Territory of Delhi. The Sports Stadiums constructed there will remain deserted over four to six months in the year. Further, due to the heat stress, the cricket players may not be able to meet the secret expectations of the bookies. This will lead to a loss of revenue to the Film industry.

No worries, Mr. Ambani said, we will convert these sports stadiums into Solar Parks taking advantage of the existing structures and the rising temperatures. These gigantic solar parks will help meet the national energy deficit.

All appreciated the idea and Mr. Pawar offered help in this transaction. I thought that was a pretty friendly gesture.

As people in north India will have a disturbed sleep at night, they will a need to kill time somehow. People with disturbed sleep will probably watch the TV and look for late night TV shows. Arnab Goswami of Times Now said that his channel will launch a special breaking news bulletin and a SuperPrime Newshour debate between 1 am to 5 am.  This night channel will be called “Times Then” instead of “Times Now”

Indeed, Times will make money in this process but as a principle, Arnab said that it will allow advertisement of only Low Carbon Goods and Services. Or the advertising rates of High carbon goods and services will be kept 4 times high. That principle was really laudable I thought only challenge being how to define what is low carbon. In Arnab’ s words, India will need to know.

I was also not sure whether the disturbed sleep at night would happen solely due to climate change or due to listening to Arnab Goswami late at night in addition to listening to him over the day!

Mr. Rana Kapoor expanded on the point of low carbon goods and services. He said that his Bank will lend money only to those enterprises who make climate friendly goods. “Yes Bank” will be recognized as “Yes and (sometimes) No Bank” when financing business that is not climate friendly. Premium accounts will be offered to citizens with higher interest who demonstrate low carbon footprint. There will an on-line carbon foot print calculator when accounts are to be opened. These strategies will distinguish the Bank from the conventional ones like ICICI Bank and HDFC and have more deposits.

There was a group of industry leaders representing the refrigeration and HVAC sector. They had smiles on their faces. They heartily welcomed global warming and the climate change. Mr. Bon-Joon Koo, Vice Chairman and CEO of LG Electronics, who flew specially from Seoul said that Air-conditioning will become a defacto standard for buildings in India for the future – and even the slum dwellers will get affordable air-conditioned housing. For them the air-conditioners installed will be the second hand imported from China as China believes and practices “circular economy”. For the rich, he said that LG will come up with personal aircon costumes similar to what astronauts wear. At a flick of a button on your special wrist watch like device, you can cool your body to a preset temperature. This will greatly reduce the heat stress to the people and maintain the work efficiency even in the outdoors.

There were more happy industrialists like Kiran Shaw Mazumdar  who were launching in advance a range of preventive medicines that would help combat the new disease vectors arising due to rise in the temperatures. Naina Kidwai of HSBC spoke about the business of climate insurance that they will promote and Shilpa Divekar Nirula CEO of Monsanto India region talked about the opportunities to the GMO market as climate change will bring threat to food security. Anand Mahindra said that his company will produce electric vehicles 10 times of the last year to commit to the mitigation measure for Climate change and lead the automobile sector business.

We want the climate to change in our favor – all of them said.  

When the breakfast ended and all the industry doyens left, Mr. Ambani closed the door and looked at the Professor in a deep gaze. “Have you got Jitong Wang here?” Yes Mr Ambani I have. Professor said. Should I get him?

Please. Said Mr Ambani. I want to discuss with him the polymer he has developed to suck CO2 from air. We will be interested to manufacture this polymer on a global basis, capture CO2 to get back the climate. We will need to ensure that we position carbon capture in the climate negotiations to our advantage. Once pushed, we will surprise everyone. And it will be a new business game that only Ambani’s can play! I want that we perfect the technology as soon as possible”

I then realized the complexity of the business in climate change. I took the elevator to the ground floor and punched 247 to exit. My  Professor friend stayed.


 

For those who don’t know about sucking of CO2 and the polymer polyethylenimine (PEI), do visit http://www.jesc.ac.cn/jesc_cn/ch/reader/download_new_edit_content.aspx?file_no=201203270000009&journal_id=jesc_cn

(Cover image page sourced from http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/business-decisions-will-prove-key-climate-summit-success/)

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14 thoughts on “The Business of Climate Change

  1. Too good Sir. “Climate Change”(?) is next biggest global Business and water war the next war.

    Regards,

    Vinita Dhupkar

    9820776806

    Like

  2. I’m may be to small to comment on this. But this article has sent my mind thinking on where are we heading as a race. There is no solution to the problem. The most interesting part the idea of sucking CO2 from the atmosphere. The first thing that crossed my mind, if CO2 was sucked out of the atmosphere, then how would our plants produce O2 through photosynthesis, so necessary for life.

    Sir, as a citizen of the world, I always think what can I do to slow down the process of climate change.

    Thank you Sir, for setting my mind thinking.

    Like

  3. It is fictitious but really fabulous… what a blog…. all my college friends turned colleagues started laughing and continued for a few minutes during recitation of the blog by one of friend/colleague….. relevantly because we are also interrelated to this business!!! a solar consulting start up.

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  4. Hi Prasad… really an eye opener …finally thats what big businesses and moef will do…ek navin dukan ughadtil….good one
    …rajiv

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  5. Presenting Climate as key factor in determining complex business growth and acknowledging the CO2 absorbent polymer … great Sir thank you a lot

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  6. It appear that the business community will more than welcome climate change as it will open new vistas for business. It is the poor who will have to suffer the most, though in the long run there will be no
    winners. Though fictitious, you were able to expose the greed of businesses community to the world. Kudos sir.

    Like

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