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What should be the role of companies in the green transition?

How can companies, citizens and governments work together to tackle climate change? Climate policies have to reinforce the social contract, supporting the EU’s desire for a “just transition” into a more sustainable economy. Such policies are necessary and will deeply affect citizens’ lives, and getting it wrong will provoke a backlash from citizens (as the gilets jaune protests in France demonstrated). This is why we have asked young Europeans what future vision of society these policies should be helping to construct.

In 2022, Debating Europe, in partnership with Coca-Cola, organised a series of online focus groups with 100 young Europeans to try and imagine a more sustainable future. The report summarising the output of our focus group discussions was published at Friends of Europe’s high-level State of Europe roundtable event in Brussels on Thursday 27 October 2022.

You can read the report here.

One of the key suggestions was for companies to take a bigger role in the green transition. This might, for example, mean moving beyond the traditional “profit motive” and towards a new model of stakeholder capitalism that considers more than just shareholder value.

Want to learn more about the role of companies in the green transition? Check out our infographic below:

We took some of the comments and ideas on companies and the green transition from our focus group discussions and put them to Thomas Block, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development & Professor for Sustainability and Governance at Ghent University, and Freek Vermeulen, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School. How would they respond? Check out the video at the top of this post to find out!

What should be the role of companies in the green transition? Can companies move beyond the profit motive? What would “stakeholder capitalism” (i.e. a system in which corporations serve the interests not just of shareholders but of all their stakeholders) look like in practice? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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