GLOBAL INVESTMENTS IN strategies that
address climate change could produce
a return on investment of up to US$7.1
trillion by 2030. This is the prediction of
a recent report released by the ThunderbirdSchool of Global Management in
Glendale, Arizona. Sanjeev Khagram,
its author and Thunderbird’s director general
and dean, shared its findings in
January at the World Economic Forum
held in Davos, Switzerland.
Khagram explains that the $7.1
trillion breaks down across five areas.
Rebuilding shorelines and other
infrastructure to withstand rising
temperatures and sea levels could result
in $4 trillion in benefits. Upgrading
infrastructure to reduce flood risks and
safeguard water supplies could create
$1.4 million in benefits. Restoring
mangrove forests that protect coastal
communities could generate $1 trillion. Finally, improving agricultural practices
in arid regions and building early
warning systems for storms and other
events could pay off $700 million and
$100 million, respectively.
Perhaps the biggest, but as yet unknown,
economic payoffs could come
from carbon capture technologies. He
points to the potential market value of
technology that turns sequestered carbon
dioxide into carbon-based materials.
These lightweight, high-performing
materials could be used in place of everything
from steel to copper electrical
wiring. In addition, researchers are currently
developing and testing methods
to restore ecosystems in the ocean and
thicken ice layers in the Arctic.
Companies already are making bets
on the high-growth potential of such
technologies. In January, Microsoft announced
its intention to be carbon neutral by 2030. The company has launched
a $1 billion fund to support development
of carbon reduction, capture, and removal
technologies over the next four years.
Its goal is to remove from the air all the
carbon it has emitted since 1975.
In December, Goldman Sachs
announced that it would spend $750
billion on sustainable finance projects
by 2030. That same month, companies
Blue Planet and Kamine Development
Corporation Sustainable Infrastructure
formed a partnership to scale the
production and use of carbon-negative
concrete. This could make a significant
difference: The manufacture of cement,
a component of traditional concrete,
creates nearly 8 percent of global carbon
emissions each year.
In April 2019, Arizona State University
in Tempe and Silicon Kingdom
Holdings announced an agreement to
deploy “mechanical trees” developed
by Klaus Lackner, director of ASU’s
Center for Negative Carbon Emissions.
Lackner’s carbon-capture technology
removes CO2 from the air thousands of
times more efficiently than natural trees.
“It is this type of bold and audacious
effort during this ‘decade of action’ that
will contribute to ensuring the survival
and flourishing of humanity,” Khagram
writes. “What is needed now is a transformative,
partnership to catalyze and connect
the mounting initiatives on climate
In Davos, Thunderbird and The
Foundation for Climate Restoration
announced the launch of the Global Climate
Restoration Task Force, which will
explore strategies to scale climate restoration
initiatives. Partners include the
Office of the Presidency for the Republic
of Kenya, Ice911 Research, Ocean-
Climate Trust, NEXUS, the Office of Santa
Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese
in California, and Earth Day Network.