Leeds School of Business researchers Elizabeth Embry, Jeffrey G. York and Jessica Jones collaborated on a recent publication that dissects progress on human-induced climate change and evaluates what more can be accomplished to make an impact on the issue. Their book chapter, “Climate change and entrepreneurship” in the Handbook of Inclusive Innovation: The Role of Organizations, Markets and Communities in Social Innovation, analyzes climate change from ecological, societal and human-health perspectives (which coincide with the authors’ professional backgrounds) to make this massive global issue more approachable through innovation and entrepreneurship.
In this book chapter, the term entrepreneur is used in the broad sense of having an entrepreneurial mindset; it is not exclusive to those who have started their own business. Rather, it is relevant to those who think creatively in their work and inspire innovation in business. Therefore, this can apply to an individual in any career and with any degree.
What Makes Entrepreneurship So Promising with Regards to Climate Change?
“Where we have the ability to think about these things differently is in the entrepreneurial space,” Embry says. “Entrepreneurship is thinking differently and creating new solutions. We need that innovation, and it’s not coming from our governmental agencies or large corporations - to whom we have traditionally looked to solve our issues - but neither are flexible or have the docility or incentives to change their processes.”
As global challenges constantly develop from human-induced climate change, it becomes increasingly important to ask what we need to do differently, which is where entrepreneurship becomes pivotal. Since climate change is so large-scale, deciding where to begin can be overwhelming. One goal of this chapter is to break down climate change into sections, making the choice of where to begin less daunting by targeting areas where individuals and organizations have the greatest capacity to make an impact. This chapter also addresses the intertwined disposition of people, business and the environment.
"Entrepreneurship offers a way for us to break down the false separation between economics and ecology,” York says. “Entrepreneurs create for profit ventures that can address climate change in a way that governmental and activist solutions cannot. But, they need a supportive policy and cultural environment to succeed. I hope the chapter helps to explain how entrepreneurship can help address the interconnected issues of not only the environmental, but also social and health impacts of climate change.”
Using Entrepreneurship to Drive Change
This entrepreneurial potential can be harnessed by aligning business with your passions; intertwining the two allows us to make progress because we move forward best with the issues that we care about most.
“Start with the part of the issue that you care about because that passion is what is going to drive your success,” Embry says. “If you don’t care about it, you won’t continue to have the energy to see it through. You don’t have to care about all of these issues related to climate change, but find the one that you do care about and run with that.”
To cultivate the greatest success, for both the business and for inspiring environmental and societal change, Embry recommends starting local.
“Entrepreneurial solutions that are local are going to have the biggest impact and make the biggest difference because they are culturally relevant, and you will have a better understanding of how to make a change in that area,” says Embry.
For a deeper analysis of the relationship between climate change and entrepreneurship, read the published chapter. To receive biweekly emails with the latest events, research and news, sign up for CESR’s newsletter.