Require expertise in climate threats to get an MBA degree from business school

Top business leaders in the U.S. and abroad are among the voices calling for carbon pricing, whether in the form of emissions trading systems or carbon taxes. Their reasons are varied. Many are acting out of practical necessity as severe weather hazards loom, while others want to position themselves at the negotiating table or disingenuously create political cover. But the point is that they are all in the game. In fact, numerous companies are already implementing internal or “shadow” carbon pricing systems, participating in voluntary carbon pricing simulations, and even making the case for governments to enact new legislation.

Here’s another piece of the puzzle they should tackle, in collaboration with universities and other stakeholder groups: target MBA programs as well as related undergraduate degree programs to make climate threats and carbon pricing part of the required curriculum in order to graduate. As part of this plan, they should work with authors and publishing companies to modernize required textbooks.

There’s a compelling case here for getting them while they’re young. Business schools, especially the elite universities, are the pipelines to America’s boardrooms, C-suites, consultancies, and start-ups. If we can impress upon business students now that industrial carbon pollution will be core to their future professional experiences, why shouldn’t we? Climate change is a big deal they should be trained on anyway. MBAs who’ve picked up savvy and training in carbon pricing will have a competitive edge over their peers who did not.

Even if the students do not end up running companies of their own, they will be part of the public debate on climate change in one way or another—whether they’re analyzing the same issues in a different industry or arguing the case at the dinner table. It behooves us to ensure that they will be climate change advocates, as well as increase their numbers. Targeting business school curricula is one promising way to do that and help shape future generations’ thinking around climate change.

For more information, see the following references:

 

World Bank, “What Is Carbon Pricing?“, accessed June 13, 2015.

World Bank, “Testing carbon pricing in Brazil: 20 companies join an innovative simulation,” Dec. 10, 2014.

CDP, “Global corporate use of carbon pricing,” accessed June 13, 2015,

CEOs of 43 Companies, Including Allianz, Call for Action on Climate Change,” Insurance Journal, Apr. 17, 2015.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, “Taking action on climate change is good business strategy,” Jan. 30, 2015.

Ceres, “Major U.S. Companies Call for Climate Change Action,” Sept. 19, 2013.