I have the pleasure of working with Climate-KIC and in particular in the area of decision metrics and finance. Looking for new business models. For example, with Climate-KIC and Sustainable Nation, we are setting up a collective intrapreneurship accelerator focussing on climate change as a business opportunity for the insurance, banking and fintech sector. It will be based in Dublin.
Riyong Kim of Climate-KIC would consistently talk about the need for fundamental changes way beyond our current thinking. Which is why she champions future sensing exercises, one of which we did at climate finance week in November. By its nature, the future is a hard thing to get your head around, as it is informed by our past. Paradigm shifts are difficult to contemplate when you are stuck in your own filters and framing. Part of that framing is our current economic models. We are simply using the wrong calculations.
Planet of the humans
No better explained by “Planet of the humans”, which is a somewhat controversial movie. What it does hammer home again is the flaw in our economic modelling.
Read “Zeronauts“. As business people, we are all criminals or at least guilty of criminal neglect. Capitalism increasingly looks like a giant Ponzi scheme – where the interests of (at least some) people alive today are wildly favoured over those of future generations.
In the case of Western capitalism, our incomes and in many cases our pensions depend on the continuation of returns that are only achievable by running down ecological assets that by rights should have been handed over in good working order to future generations.
You are going to get sued
When we clear-fell forests, exhaust oceanic fisheries, run-down aquifers that have taken millennia to build up or expose children to environmental toxins that stunt their development, we act like criminals. Theft is a crime. The theft of our children’s future will someday be considered a crime. You are going to get sued for your pollution, emissions, waste, carbon, poisoning, etc.. CSR and philanthropy are too weak. That is too close to business-as-usual. It needs to become a fundamental part of your business model.
Business modelling in the future
Recently I did a number of workshops with climate entrepreneurs, and we were discussing business models and future trends. I explained that I am utterly convinced that in a not so near future, all business models will be calculated at full cost to nature. It will be calculated at restorative levels. That goes way beyond carbon neutral. The carbon tax will be chicken feed compared to paying full cost for restoring soil, taking all plastic out our environment, replanting trees, 100% clean air, etc. The polluter will pay at the total cost. Which means all our business will be declared bankrupt.
For example, how do you calculate the value of a 500-year-old Joshua tree and how much do you charge a company for destroying it in a few seconds to build a solar farm? And how much do we charge that solar farms for the damage the mining for their raw materials does to the environment? At restorative levels. And how much do we charge the solar farm for the dismantling of the solar farm and reintroducing that into our natural ecosystems? With no pollution left. With the environment restored to its original natural state. How do you regrow a 500-year-old Joshua tree in 20 years?
Do the math
Do the calculations. Look at your current models. And look way beyond the existing value chain but include nature as part of it. Ultimately, it is nature where the real value lies. Without it, we are finished.