April 4, 2022
By Kailun Yin
Kailun Yin is a first-year graduate student from the Environmental Studies program at Penn, who is passionate about energy transition, geopolitics, and the future of sustainable aviation. She is also the graduate assistant for climate and sustainability programming at the Wharton Risk Center and participated in ClimateCAP 2022.
Eight graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania attended the third Climate CAP: The Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital, and Business, which was held at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management on February 25-26, 2022. The event gathered MBA students and thought leaders from twenty-three business schools who, together with industry leaders, discussed the risks and opportunities of a world facing climate emergency. Students gained a deeper understanding of how climate change is shaping industries and markets, where the biggest financial and operational risks lie, and what promising innovations and entrepreneurship opportunities are emerging.
The conference featured leadership from established companies such as Apple, Patagonia, Google, Unilever, General Motors, and Boeing, but also startups such as Indigo Ag, an agriculture technology company, Persefoni, a climate management and accounting platform, and Apeel Sciences, a food system innovation company. The opportunity to meet individuals in industries such as transport, agriculture, and healthcare, was impactful, since interdisciplinary network and platforms have historically enabled innovations and breakthroughs by allowing ideas to be diffused and combined in novel ways.
The Penn delegation participated in a series of plenary keynotes and discussions, including “Climate as Strategy,” “Policy System for the Future,” “Climate Equity,” and “Innovation and Frontier Challenges.” Given diverse student interests, members of the delegation joined different sub-sessions to explore the impact of climate on various industries and functions, including the grid, circular economy, food and agriculture, sustainable cities, supply chain, venture and entrepreneurship, investment management, and marketing and brand transparency.
The students reported positively on their take-aways. Lily Ma, a first-year Wharton MBA student, said that “meeting people with diverse backgrounds but similar passions from around the nation was a great experience.” Meagan Murphy, a second-year MBA student shared that her favorite breakout session focused on circular economy, with startups and established retailers “making strides to increase the efficiency of their supply chain and packaging to reduce unnecessary waste.” Arjun Krishna, a second-year MBA student, resonated that “ClimateCAP was an overwhelmingly positive experience.” Second-year Wharton MBA candidate Thomas Obermeier found that the keynote discussion with Rep. Sean Casten (D, IL-6th District) brought him some new perspectives, as “Casten believes that adjusting federal policies would be far more impactful than just technological innovations alone.”
After attending ClimateCAP, second-year Wharton MBA candidate, Elsa Mou, is further convinced that companies can do well by doing good. “Whether or not returns are concessionary is no longer a discussion, because impact funds are increasingly demonstrating market-rate returns.”