ClimateCAP 2023 dives into the business implications of climate change

ClimateCAP brings together MBA students, business leaders and experts from around the world to assess the implications of climate change for business and investment. At the summit, students gain a deeper understanding of how climate change is shaping industries and markets, where the biggest financial and operational risks lie, and what promising innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities are emerging.

ClimateCAP is a program managed by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, in partnership with other top-tier business schools that have signed on as partner schools, including the Michigan Ross School of Business. ClimateCAP programming includes a portfolio of activities, but its flagship event is the ClimateCAP Summit. The first ClimateCAP Summit was held at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 2018 with 157 MBA students from 16 different business schools.

Southern hospitality

Each year, a different MBA program hosts the summit and crafts programming and themes befitting the school and the region. This year, the University of Texas McCombs School of Business welcomed guests with a heavy dose of warm southern hospitality. As a state, Texas will be pivotal in the energy transition, because of its record oil and gas company profits and the greatest renewable energy output in the country. Austin, where McCombs’s main campus sits, serves as a technology and energy innovation hub in the state, a theme that the host team highlighted through the summit and in the pithy tagline “Innovation x Climate.” 

The McCombs student team did a terrific job weaving different aspects of the energy transition into the summit, and we certainly got the sense that we were among a growing contingent of Texans and visiting students who are thinking about the state’s future role in the energy economy. 

Interest in climate is swelling

This year, student tickets for the summit sold out within two hours of going on sale, leaving many Erbers and other business students to sit patiently on a long waitlist. This was our first signal that the summit was going to be buzzy, and the student engagement with the speakers, breakout sessions and one another was impressive. Attendees included MBA students from all over the country, and several from part-time, executive and online programs. We met former engineers, marketers, scientists, activists and entrepreneurs, all coming together to spend their post-MBA careers developing the business of climate mitigation and adaptation. Attendees’ interests in climate issues were broad, and the summit appealed to those various interests with breakout sessions, subsector leaders and numerous start-ups tackling old problems in new ways.  

Chatting with other students revealed diverse motivations for working in climate. The tone has shifted from “doing good” to a more practical outlook on the future economy and the skills and expertise that will be most valuable over our careers. Businesses are continuing to weave sustainability strategies into core business functions, and internal climate champions are migrating further into the C-suite. 

Looking forward

Looking back on this summit, it’s hard not to feel excited about a future career in business and climate. Environmental and social stewardship are folding more and more into mainstream business education, and the momentum feels stronger than ever. The energy will continue to draw students from all backgrounds into the climate arena, and the increasingly diverse workforce will be better equipped to address the crises at hand. While the current macroeconomic environment has disrupted certain job markets, the demand for MBA students with experience and interest in sustainability remains strong.  

Finally, we are excited to announce that Michigan Ross and the Erb Institute will be hosting ClimateCAP 2024 next spring! We look forward to demonstrating the University of Michigan’s leadership on climate and sustainability education, and supporting the growing ClimateCAP program. We expect to have 500+ guests in attendance next year. For more, follow along on the ClimateCAP website, and if you’re a University of Michigan student interested in helping, we’d love to hear from you here.