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What is the role of corporations in the energy transition?

How corporations are changing and must change more as we journey from 2022 to 2050 – and beyond

The Great Energy Transition

in partnership with

Do corporations lead or do they follow? Do they push government or do they work within whatever legal frameworks are of the day?

Of course, they do all of the above. They always have. And in the process they have been crucial cogs of progress – much of it good, but not all. That is now changing. Corporations will remain as engines of growth and innovation but increasingly they find themselves partners in a mission that must transcend the traditional push-and-pull over regulation and taxation that has characterised the relationship between government and business. There’s a bigger goal here; the energy transition. And there’s no time left to pull in opposite directions.

In this new partnership – which will doubtlessly have its ups and downs – corporations are uniquely positioned in the fight against climate change. Unlike governments, they often cross state lines and national borders, influencing people across the globe. The biggest corporations wield great economic power, and have the flexibility to implement sustainability projects on a faster time scale than many governmental programmes. They influence culture, the economy and people’s purchasing choices.

But corporations are, more than ever, the people who work at these companies. And they are the customers who consume their goods and services. And both constituencies have values that they are less likely to compromise on than at any point in our history. They insist on corporate ethics, a commitment to diversity, equity and social responsibility. Climate, racial justice, inclusion – these issues and more are now baked into what a corporation is and must be. In our current climate, the corporations not only have the power, but they have a responsibility to safeguard the planet and the people on it. And never before have corporations embraced – sometimes slowly, often imperfectly – this new responsibility.

In this event we looked at how corporations are changing and must change more as we journey from 2022 to 2050 – and beyond.




Jennifer Rumsey

President and CEO of Cummins Inc.

President and CEO of Cummins Inc., a global technology leader with a broad portfolio of power solutions. In this role, she oversees the strategic direction, growth initiatives and global operations for the 103-year old, Indiana-based company, which is the world’s largest independent manufacturer of engines and related technologies. She has served in several leadership positions across the company, including most recently as the President and COO.  

Gillian Tett

Chairman of the US editorial board and U.S editor-at-large at the Financial Times

Chairman of the US editorial board and U.S editor-at-large at the Financial Times. She is the author of many books including Fools Gold and the new book Anthro-Vision: A New Way to see Business and Life. Gillian holds a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge and has won numerous awards, including Columnist, Journalist and Business Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.

Jason Bordoff

Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School

Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School. He previously served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the Staff of the National Security Council, and, prior to that, held senior policy positions on the White House’s National Economic Council and Council on Environmental Quality. One of the world’s leading energy and climate policy experts, Bordoff’s research and policy interests lie at the intersection of economics, energy, environment, and national security. He is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, a frequent commentator on TV and radio, including NPR, Bloomberg, CNBC and BBC, and has published in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, the Economist, and other leading outlets.

Helen Czerski

One of the UK’s most popular science presenters

British oceanographer, physicist and television presenter. Her many programmes for radio and TV include Radio 4’s Inside Science, Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey, numerous Horizon documentaries, The Sky at Night, and Dara O Briain’s Science Club. She is a Research Fellow at University College London, and holds a PhD in experimental explosives physics. She is the author of Storm In A Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life. She gave the 2020 Royal Institution's annual Christmas lecture on the workings of the world's oceans and how they serve as the heart of our planetary life support system.