The European Forum for Risk and Insurance professionnals
Managing Director, CDP Europe
How can businesses and individuals contribute to building a truly sustainable economy? Have you seen an evolution in the behaviors and practices over the past years ?
A small number of companies are the source of the vast majority of global emissions. For this reason, companies in high impact sectors – and their investors – can be major drivers of change. Put simply, their engagement with climate objectives can make or break whether we are able to build such a sustainable economy. We are seeing signs of progress: for example, we are now seeing many more companies incentivise their executives to achieve climate goals. More than 550 of the world’s biggest companies are setting science-based emissions targets, which mean they have plans to operate in a sustainable way. The transition to a sustainable economy is inevitable and underway, but every actor in society must quicken the pace. Individuals can support these efforts, of course, by investing in sustainable businesses and engaging with the topic of climate change.
How does CDP Europe facilitate this?
CDP’s mission is to transform the way companies, cities and investors think about environmental issues like climate change, water scarcity and deforestation. We do this by helping them to measure and understand their environmental impact, in order to take action to start building a truly sustainable economy.
What does Sustainable Growth mean to you?
The climate science is clear that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, we must reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. A sustainable economy is one that thrives within these boundaries and actually contributes to achieving the Paris Agreement, by offering low carbon innovation to speed up the transition. It’s possible to imagine an economy in Europe which is zero-emissions, powered by renewables and decoupled from unsustainable resource use. But we need faster action to make this a reality.
What is the best example you have seen of a European company working towards sustainable growth?
There are in fact great examples from every sector. There are around 70 companies in Europe on CDP’s A List, and just two – L’Oreal and Firmenich – who score an A for their work on climate, water security and forests. Importantly, these two companies actively engage their supply chain too. Just recently, Heidelberg became the first company in the cement industry – the 2nd most polluting industry – to have an approved science-based target for reducing emissions. We’ve also seen Daimler recently announce that its whole fleet will be electric before 2040. Also very interesting are the technological changes being driven by large capital goods companies, like Siemens or Schneider Electric. These companies’ products power our economy’s highest-emitting sectors like transport, building and power generation, and now innovation in electrification, digitalization and automation – things like smart-grid controls, IoT operating systems, and energy storage – are helping to build low carbon into the DNA of big industry. Because this sector has such a huge influence on end-user (Scope 3) emissions, I see this type of innovation as absolutely essential as businesses transition to low carbon models and build modes of production and consumption compatible with a 1.5-degree world.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to any European Risk Professionals looking to activate change within their companies?
Of course, disclosing the risks (and opportunities) related to sustainability is the critical first step to seeing where actions can be taken. This transparency is the very bedrock for action – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Beyond that, it’s absolutely essential to have buy-in from the highest levels of the organisation. Environmental risks are absolutely material and have to be governed.
Steven will be on the panel of our Sustainable Growth session at this year’s FERMA Forum.
Find out more about this session here and register to secure your place.