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💬 "Pushing The Private Sector"

Columbia Energy Exchange

Photo by Dayne Topkin / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Bill Loveless
Guest: Mindy Lubber | President and CEO | CERES
Category: 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:59] “CERES is about integrating sustainability issues like climate change and water shortages, into the work of every major corporation, investment firm, and the policies that regulate them. We can no longer think about climate change as an environmental issue. It is about the future of our planet and everything we do as human beings, as corporations, as investors and […] it has an impact on our economy. […] What we […] do and have for the last 30 years is to integrate the real costs and opportunities of sustainability issues into how companies act and think, into how investors act and build their portfolios and into the policy arena.”

[6:19] “We're seeing grand commitments, meaning commitments to get to net zero carbon emissions and so on. But we're not seeing action commensurate with that. So […] there's been a major change, I'd say almost a mini revolution on understanding climate, water shortages, and the profound impacts they have on us, as a society, as a community. And we're seeing general interest in acting. What we don't see yet is the pace and the scale that's absolutely required to get to that future that the global Paris Agreement said we have to get to. So good progress, really good progress, and at the same time, a long way to go.”

[10:15] “The largest companies in the world have extraordinary breadth and depth, some of them hundreds of thousands of employees, using thousands, if not tens of thousands of cars of refrigeration systems energy use. So let's start with every company should commit to go into 100% renewable energy. And I would argue that's the easy part. And many, many companies have done that, including Apple and Microsoft, and PepsiCo and many large companies committing to 100% renewables. Then they need to look at their refrigeration systems, the cars they purchase, the equipment they use.”

[10:56] “We are moving to the time when there are opportunities now and lots of options for going to an electric vehicle future. Not every vehicle or every need of a company can be met by an electric vehicle, because they're not enough on the market yet. But there are plenty of options. So when you're buying your next fleet of 100 companies, or 100 vehicles, or 1,000 trucks, buy those that are electric vehicles. And start looking at all of your equipment, which ones use less energy rather than more energy and provide incentives for your employees to commute in different ways through mass transit, rather than driving cars, the list goes on and on.”

[11:43] “The next thing they need to do is help their suppliers. Many large companies get their materials, their goods, their backup from thousands of small companies, those small companies don't necessarily know how to change their fleet, their energy use their refrigeration systems. We're asking all large companies to help their suppliers, educate them, give them incentives, to make sure all of those suppliers are doing what's necessary to get us to that net zero future or zero new emissions by 2050.”

[12:17] “It has to be transparent. […] In every company we benchmark, meaning look at how they're doing and their plans need to be very specific and clear about what they're going to get done short term. I don't want to know what they're going to do in 2040 or 2050. Because if they don't start now, they can get to that net zero future by 2040. So what are they doing by 2025, or 2030, or 2035. All of that needs to be clear, specific, tangible and transparent in their sustainability reports, in their reports to their stockholders, who want to know right now, the company's they're invested in being responsible corporate citizens, and addressing issues like climate change and water shortages and human rights in a way that proves they are well managed companies. And if they're not showing that to their investors, we're seeing a backlash from investors.”

[21:54] “The questions of how a company deals with climate change, or water shortages or human rights are questions that need to be discussed at a board level. They're not mechanics, they are not transactions that are about the value, the risks and the challenges that companies have. […] A board has a duty to limit risk to the company. […] And some of the things we tell them is, you've got to have a formal standing committee that deals with these things, don't just hire one person, put one person on your board, who is the green advocate. Then things get minimized into some special category. This is about the overall risk to a company and make sure you're dealing with it at the risk level.”

[23:18] “CEOs and leaders within corporate America and certainly beyond, do what they're paid to do. And I don't say that in a bad way, even though we may want values driven companies. So tie CEO compensation to the metrics of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, or some other way, build it into the priority of the firm, meaning what you're holding your CEO accountable, what they're holding their C-suite accountable for and how to build it down.”

[25:42] “We are calling along with hundreds of our investors […] on the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC, to come out with a rule over the next year mandating the disclosure of climate risk. And doing so not because it's a popular, trendy, interesting environmental issue, because it's a major risk to companies. Investors depend on the SEC, to make sure companies they're thinking about investing in or that they are investing in, provide all the information they need to know about the strength or the weaknesses of the company. And so many have in the past said, climate change, it's an externality. It's a nice issue. But it's not the real risk. It's not currency risk, or trade risk or inflation risk. Our point is […] that climate risk is a real risk as real as any other risk and it must be disclosed. And we want to make sure that disclosure is consistent, applies to companies across the board, certainly all publicly traded companies, although some private companies as well, and that information is available.”

[36:35] “We've got leaders or we have companies standing up and saying, we want to be a climate leader. We're setting enormous greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, and we're doing it with short, medium and long term specifics. But if those companies are not also helping to change the laws, and the regulations, then they're not really a climate champion or a leader. And more importantly, […] many of those companies, dozens and hundreds, are still supporting trade associations that are working against us on changing the law or changing rules and regulations. That is no longer okay. You cannot be a climate leader without being consistent. It means bringing your carbon footprint down to be sure, it means working with your supply chain, it means holding your CEO accountable. But it means making sure that your government relations office in Washington that sometimes is disconnected from the rest of the enterprise, is lobbying for the things that make a difference in the right way and not the wrong way. And regrettably, that still is not the case.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 40 min | 🗓️ 08/03/2021
✅ Time saved: 38 min