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Expand chart
Reproduced from High Lantern Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

Climate change has, quite suddenly, become a lightning rod for business and finance leaders around the world.

Driving the news: Climate generated the highest degree of public pressure on corporations by activists, policymakers and journalists last year, according to data analyzed by consultancy High Lantern Group and provided exclusively to Axios. The topic's mention rose 77% over 2018.

How it works: This is the survey's second year and includes analysis of more than six million tweets.

  • Of course, Twitter is not the only barometer of influence, but Rob Gluck, the group's managing partner, says, "The vast majority of relevant public actors are using that platform to communicate."

The big picture: The survey comes amid an intensifying backdrop. In recent months, the world's foremost economic institutions have advocated for policies cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This trend is driven by a confluence of factors, including more extreme weather and greater public pressure.

  • The institutions include the International Monetary Fund, Bank for International Settlements, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and major central banks.
  • And the official agenda at the World Economic forum this week is dedicated entirely to climate change.

What they're saying: The BIS — known as the central bank for central banks — warned Monday in a research paper that climate change could cause "potentially extremely financially disruptive events that could be behind the next systemic financial crisis."

  • "This complex collective action problem requires coordinating actions among many players including governments, the private sector, civil society and the international community."
  • IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said in a speech last week that the Fund "ought to begin to build standards for disclosure of climate risks," including "mandatory disclosure standards."

The intrigue: Finance and economics-focused groups have increasingly been pushing governments to implement carbon taxes, an approach championed last year by every living former chair of the Federal Reserve and dozens of former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers and Nobel Laureate economists.

But, but, but: All this rhetoric should be scrutinized carefully and often. Talking about supporting policies addressing climate change is quite different from actually doing something about it. Rhetoric often outpaces action on this topic, partly because it’s a slow-moving issue: Goals are made 10-30 years out.

  • For example, although JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said Wednesday he would advocate for such a policy, his company is not a member of groups supporting it, including the Washington-based Climate Leadership Council and its lobbying arm Americans for Carbon Dividends.
  • A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment further.

What we're watching: What kinds of substantive action we will see — if we see any at all — in the coming months following these pronouncements made at Davos and elsewhere.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.