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A Seemingly Symbolic Activist Action Actually Shifted the Climate Change Debate

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New study by Erb Institute faculty, Andy Hoffman and former Erb Postdoc Todd Schifeling shows McKibben's fossil fuel divestment effort to have positive, if unexpected results.

On the face of it, Bill McKibben’s effort through 350.org to have universities divest fossil fuel assets had limited success. Only a handful of institutions pledged to divest and it didn’t affect the stocks of fossil fuel companies.

Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability - Why You Need Both a Picture and a Thousand Words

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To be heard in many public debates, you may need more than the proverbial picture that’s worth a thousand words—you may need both a picture and a thousand words.

Language choice
Labels and metaphors are powerful. Well-chosen ones evoke positive imagery, emotions and values, while poorly chosen ones can be disastrous. For example, “global warming” is a much more divisive term than “climate change.”

As Long as Climate Change Does Not Touch the Rich, Nothing Will Change, Says Andrew J. Hoffman

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Should we focus on persuading the deniers...?
Without any thoughts I will tell you that on the table. Do not waste time with people who have already formed their opinion and are unwilling to withdraw from their position. We should concentrate on those people who are not sure, but willing to listen to your views.

Corporate Sustainability Insights from Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability's Strategic Advisory Member, Neil Hawkins

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“It’s extremely important to have a few goals that will lead a company to have a truly positive impact, but also to stick to those goals and align everyone around them,” he says. “These are hugely important for culture, identity, recruiting and retention. They need to be simple and easy to understand, helping the company to stay focused… It’s about constancy of purpose; you want to instill this into the culture.” It starts on the inside, and without engrained commitment, alignment and clarity (Purpose), Performance and Participation will be lacking.

Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability Experts in the News - Can Hollywood Movies About Climate Change Make a Difference?

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“Typically, if you really want to mobilize people to act, you don’t scare the hell out of them and convince them that the situation is hopeless,” said Andrew Hoffman, professor of management and organizations, and environment and sustainability, commenting on the way climate change is often depicted in Hollywood movies.”

Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability Experts in the News - Thomas P. Lyon 'A Test for Corporate Sustainability Leadership'

Which companies will advocate for more sensible public policy?
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Private Sector Opportunity to Lead

Many companies have stepped up, joining campaigns such as the We Are Still In movement. With over 2,300 members (more than 900 of them from the business sector) and $6.2 trillion of economic might, We Are Still In is the broadest cross-section of the US economy ever assembled in support of climate action.

Which Companies will Walk the Talk?

Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability Director Joe Arvai - What is (and, is not) an Energy Strategy?

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When most people talk about energy strategies, they’re actually not talking about strategy at all.  Oftentimes, narratives are about what companies and policy makers could or should be doing when it comes to energy transitions are framed as “strategy”.  For example, I’ve heard people say that putting a price on carbon, or the need to transition to an electrified economy that does not depend upon fossil fuels, is an “energy strategy.”

Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability Director, Joe Arvai - Big Data Will Not Save Us

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The rise of what is broadly called “big data” has given new impetus to those who believe that more and better information will solve our decision-making troubles.

What Makes a Strong Leader in Sustainability?

Staff writer Allison Burtka breaks down the Sustainability Leaders report.
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Work in sustainability entails immense challenges, and much of the area is uncharted. To navigate it, strong leadership is essential.

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