John Kerry and Three Corporate Leaders Discuss Tackling Climate Change

Private-sector efforts to slow climate change are gaining momentum, three business leaders said at Yale SOM on September 18. But the failure of governments to set a price on carbon is limiting progress. 

Former secretary of state John Kerry led the conversation on the state of efforts to combat climate change, gathering three executives who have taken leadership roles in that effort: Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America; Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of the board at General Electric; and Hank Paulson, former secretary of the treasury.

The event was part of the Yale Climate Conference, an event sponsored by the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Kerry Initiative that gathered leaders from business and government for conversations in venues across the Yale campus 

Here are some excerpts from their conversation. 

John Kerry says that the most important impact of the Paris agreement was in signaling markets that the world’s economies are moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy: 


Hank Paulson discusses how the Risky Business project is encouraging companies to evaluate the risk associated with climate change:


Anne Finucane describes the transformation of Bank of America’s investment in energy projects over the last decade:


Jeffrey Immelt says that innovation can address climate change while creating good jobs:  


Hank Paulson says that it is imperative to end tax incentives for carbon-based fuels:


Anne Finucane talks about a fund created by a consortium of banks to invest in climate-related projects that are too risky for any one entity to take on alone:


Jeffrey Immelt and Hank Paulson say that if governments don't take a leadership role on climate, future business leaders will need to step up:


John Kerry remembers the process that helped the U.S. and China find common ground in advance of the Paris climate talks:


Jeffrey Immelt describes the role of the state of California in moving U.S. environmental standards forward during the Great Recession:


Watch the entire discussion:

About the Event

Speakers will explore the role of the private sector in addressing climate change, including market based solutions and opportunities in renewable energy.

Watch on Livestream.

About the Yale Climate Conference
The Yale Climate Conference will feature five sessions with key business, political and diplomatic leaders on critical topics including the future of energy; the role of the private sector; state, city and international efforts; bipartisan U.S. leadership; and citizen engagement and activism. This event is sponsored by the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Kerry Initiative.


John Kerry

Former U.S. Secretary of State; Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs, Yale University


Hank Paulson

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

Jeffrey Immelt

Chairman of the Board, General Electric

Anne Finucane

Vice Chairman, Bank of America