Best of 2006

gary powell/photonica/getty images

Global Warming

Best Idea

This was the year global warming went from controversial to conventional for much of the corporate world. From AIG to DuPont to Duke Energy, a growing list of blue chips are formally including climate change in their long-range plans. For some, like Wal-Mart, that means a new zealousness to build low-energy stores. For others, such as GE, it means customizing products to deliver ultra-high efficiencies. Why the shift? Many chief executives speak of a personal awakening to the threat of climate change. But even for those who remain skeptical, pressure is suddenly coming from every direction. Big institutional investors are pushing companies to account for their carbon dioxide output, given that it’s likely to hit the balance sheet as a liability sooner than once expected. Insurers are shaping policy terms and bumping up rates in response to bigger storms, worse fires, and longer droughts. Climate cases are multiplying in the courts too. And despite resistance from the White House, with congressional and local politics only getting greener, carbon limits look more like a matter of if—not when.

Best Products slide show
Best Leaders slide show
Read the story
Reader comments

More Slide Shows