Past Meetup

Amy Larkin: Environmental Debt


Amy Larkin was the Solutions Director for Greenpeace USA for six years until 2011. Since 2012, through her consulting firm, Nature Means Business, she worked with Greenpeace International, The Consumer Goods Forum (a consortium of 400 of the world’s leading consumer brands and retailers), and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC/Davis. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Biomimicry NYC, a Strategic Advisor to RESOLVE, the DC-based experts on building negotiated solutions to intractable public policy issues, and is Chair of the Board of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, the largest collection of contemporary music in the world.

Amy Larkin has been at the forefront of the fight for the environment for years, and she argues that the costs of global warming, extreme weather, pollution and other forms of “environmental debt” are wreaking havoc on the economy. Synthesizing complex ideas, she pulls back the curtain on some of the biggest cultural touchstones of the environmental debate, revealing how, for instance, despite coal’s relative fame as a “cheap” energy source, ordinary Americans pay $350 billion a year for coal’s damage in business related expenses, polluted watersheds, and in healthcare costs. To combat these trends, she proposes a new framework for 21st century commerce, based on three principles: 1) Pollution can no longer be free; 2) All business decision making and accounting must incorporate the long view; and 3) Government must play a vital role in catalyzing clean technology and growth while preventing environmental destruction. As companies and nations struggle to strategize in the face of global financial debt, many businesses have begun to recognize the causal relationship between a degraded environment and a degraded bottom line. Profiling the multinational corporations that are transforming their operations with downright radical initiatives, she presents smart policy choices that would actually unleash these business solutions to many global financial and environmental problems.