FRONTLINE Heat is a global report on what is being done by the world’s largest corporations and governments to respond to the challenges posed by climate change and to the call for reductions in carbon emissions. The program takes viewers to the world’s largest coal mine, oil refinery, and off-shore oil rig as well as America’s biggest utility companies and car manufacturers to explore the technological, political, and economic challenges facing global corporations.
In this video case study and corresponding business module, students are asked to consider how industries and governments are responding to climate change through a set of key themes, discussion questions and a classroom exercises. Students will present solutions to the challenging problems posed in the module.
In Leadership on Climate Change, we explore the question of whether or not government officials in the United States can summon the political will necessary to enact climate change policies. With the threat of climate change looming large, Americans are looking for political leadership on this issue, but thus far the government has shied away from aggressive subsidies or cap-and-trade systems and instead opted for the status quo. The global recession has further hamstrung our ability to move forward with climate change regulations. In this Business Module, students are asked to examine the roles of government and business leaders in the mitigation of climate change and to determine who is best-equipped to spur innovation.
Key Video Segment Themes:
In December 2007, the Senate Environment Committee approved the Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill for a vote on the Senate floor. Sen. Inhofe, (R-OK) tried to derail the bill, but it passed anyway.
The bill would grant companies hundreds of billions of dollars for carbon capture and storage R and D and wind and solar incentives. Automakers would get billions to develop cleaner cars–up to 7 trillion over 40 years. A cap and trade system was at the heart of the bill.
When the bill hit the Senate floor, gas prices were at an all-time high and the worry was that a cap and trade system would further increase gas prices. The bill was killed.
Amy Jaffe makes the point that innovation in America is stifled by special interest groups who do not think about what the nation needs, but rather only what is immediately good for their own interests.
Marty Hoffert cites the development of the Apollo–in less than 10 years the US landed a man on the moon. Referring to innovation and meeting tough challenges, he says “this is what we do, this is what we are good at.”
The global recession, however, means that the U.S. government does not have the disposable cash and so will need to make bets on where it should invest in new clean technology.
Jerry Brown, former Governor and current Attorney General of California, says that addressing climate change will take an unprecedented degree of cooperation among business, government, and countries. He calls the task: daunting.