As we have repeatedly said, ESG is about long-term cost-savings and net revenue increases. Emphasis added below:
If your chief financial officer is the last person you would think of to take charge on climate change, think again. Today, smart organizations are shifting their sustainability responsibilities toward the finance function.
There are several reasons for this change. First is the basic math, which falls largely within a CFO’s purview. Mitigating and adapting to climate change will require close to $1 trillion in investments per year through 2030 for the economy as a whole, and is also expected to put at risk between $4.2 trillion and $43 trillion of tradable stock exchange assets by the end of the century, depending on the level of planetary warming. (The latter number is for a world that has warmed by 6 degrees Celsius.)
Second, cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions leads to cost savings. If you cut emissions, you cut energy, which is a massive organizational cost — something CFOs pay close attention to. Third, because investors are pushing to make climate-safe investments, they want climate risks to be integrated within corporate financial disclosures. Finally, the business opportunities for climate change solutions are blooming. According to Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, “As creators, enablers, preservers and reporters of sustainable value, accountants can make their organizations’ adaptation efforts more effective.” Taken together, these shifts are leading finance teams to include what were formerly called “nonfinancials” in their daily jobs.
CFO leadership on climate change is starting to pay off. For example, Adnams, a British brewery, recently saw an increase in the base cost of beer because hot summers were affecting barley production. To solve the problem, the CFO was able to offset these higher costs by looking at energy and water savings. The CFO of Mars, Claus Aagaard, has talked about how the company’s sustainability plan allowed it to capitalize on cost savings within two years.