UNC & Duke MBAs discuss the business implications of climate change

In November, MBA students and alumni from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business came together for a joint networking event and panel discussion on the financial implications of climate change. Panelists from Walmart, Counter Culture Coffee, Ingersoll Rand, and Oak Hill Capital shared thoughts about how the effects of climate change may affect supply chains, agricultural growing regions, and the cost of capital in the future.

“Simply put, there is money to be made and lost,” EDGE managing director Katie Kross said in opening the discussion. Oak Hill Capital’s Lee Coker reflected on the increasing interest from investors in climate risk disclosure, particularly in response to new recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure. Other panelists discussed the ways in which their companies are thinking about reducing their carbon emissions while also planning for more resilient facilities and supply chains that are better able to withstand shocks from extreme weather events like fire, drought, flooding, and hurricanes. Counter Culture Coffee’s Chelsea Thoumsin explained that coffee is a particularly vulnerable agricultural commodity because it only thrives in very specific growing climates; Counter Culture and other companies sourcing coffee are working with farmers to develop new growing practices as well as new varietals in the hopes of ensuring supply in the facing of a changing environment.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Joby Carlson, Director, Global Sustainability, Walmart
  • Lee Coker, Principal, Fourth Factor Advisors and ESG Officer, Oak Hill Capital
  • Holly Emerson, Senior Sustainability Analyst, Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Ingersoll Rand
  • Chelsea Thoumsin, Coffee Buyer, Counter Culture Coffee
  • Katie Kross, Managing Director, EDGE ,Fuqua School of Business – moderator

The event also served as a preview to the upcoming event called ClimateCAP: The Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital, & Business. Both Kenan-Flagler and Fuqua are partners in the multi-school collaborative event which will be held on Feb. 21-22, 2020 at UVA’s Darden School of Business.