Wesley Johnson, Energy Knect
The pressure to shift towards a low carbon future is certainly not a novel concept. Pressures to save our planet from ‘doomsday’ has been around for decades and the discovery of global warming dates back to the late 18th century.
So why the sudden change?
The events of the past year have sharpened investors interests in sustainable and resilient assets, including renewables, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Moreover, climate change has now been listed among the top 10 risks to global businesses according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2021. Consequently, carbon management and ESG( Environmental, Social and Governance) has now become a crucial strategy for any business that is looking to remain competitive and stay ahead in today’s economy.
Deploying effective ESG and carbon management strategies boasts a plethora of benefits and opportunities for companies including the likes of accessing large pools of capital, robust relations with clients, development of a stronger brand and achieve sustainable long-term growth. We have listed a few of our favourites below.
Gives your company a competitive advantage
According to a report by KMPG, companies with a higher ESG performance are likely to have better financial performance, talent retention and long-term value creation. 3M’s Pollution Prevention Pays initiative(3P) is a great example of how companies can gain a competitive advantage through the deployment of effective ESG strategies. 3P prevents pollution at the source, in product and in manufacturing. 3P was introduced in 1975 and to date, has resulted in the elimination of more than 3 billion pounds of pollution and saved them nearly $1.4 billion.
Supports revenue growth
An effective ESG strategy that differentiates your business in the market by providing climate leadership, can lead to new client acquisition, an increase of profitability and the development of new products and services which will allow your business to tap into new markets. According to McKinsey, they found that upward of 70 per cent of consumers would pay an additional 5 per cent for a green product than for a comparable non-green alternative. Furthermore, according to multiple research reports, it is evident that sustainable investing and superior investment returns are positively correlated.
According to McKinsey, effectively executing an ESG strategy can help reduce rising operating expenses including the true costs of raw materials, water or carbon. One of their studies found that by reducing resource costs, businesses can improve operating profits by up to 60 per cent.
Brewing company Heineken, for example, is heavily reliant on quality water for their products and to sustain their business. Their latest finance and sustainability report revealed that they reduced their water consumption by 33 per cent in water-stressed areas since 2008 including a 51 per cent drop in carbon emissions from production. Consequently, this has saved the company €15 Million since 2009.
ESG has become an essential management tool for businesses to identify and proactively mitigate risks. According to EY, Investors increasingly believe that companies that perform well on ESG are less risky, better positioned for long growth and better prepared for uncertainty.
For investors, ESG reporting is helping them avoid companies that might pose a greater financial risk due to their ESG performance. For businesses, ESG reporting is helping them shift away from traditional compliance-based thinking and reactive mindsets, helping them focus on a more proactive risk mitigation approach. Furthermore, according to KPMG, ESG reporting is challenging organisations to be more transparent about the risks and opportunities it faces which in turn pushes for more robust processes and enhances the credibility of what’s been reported. Ignoring these risks can be detrimental to businesses in the long term, as it can lead to a lack of funding, have an adverse effect on brand reputation, stagnate business growth and potentially see yourself fall behind your peers.
With the increasing pressures from investors and stakeholders for businesses to disclose consistent, comparable and reliable data and the plethora of benefits attached to joining the green revolution, it probably doesn’t seem like a bad idea to hop onto the ESG train to set your business up for a fruitful and long-term growth journey, like so many businesses are already doing.