LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Companies in the most polluting sectors that have invested in climate action often find themselves valued below peers that have been slower to do so, highlighting the difficulty of getting shareholders to back sustainability.
Investors have poured more than $30 trillion into environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) strategies, data from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance showed. read more
But the demand for sustainable investment has yet to remove the pressure to put profits first and pro-climate analysts are concerned the outcome of U.N. climate talks earlier this month did too little to help. read more
Analyses of companies globally by management consultancy Kearney in November seen exclusively by Reuters, as well as data by Credit Suisse Group AG published in April (CSGN.S), found that companies that lowered their emissions in sectors where doing so was expensive and government regulation was limited were valued less, on average, than more emitting peers.
Investors were only found to reward the most emitting companies, such as energy, mining and heavy industry, for taking action on climate change when the cost of doing so was relatively small and government support and regulations were relatively strong.
Investors want climate leadership, they want tangible transition plans, but at the same time they are only willing to reward companies that can do so without sacrificing returns,” Betty Jiang, Credit Suisse’s head of U.S. ESG research, said.
Given changing attitudes as climate change becomes more extreme, some see an opportunity to invest in companies cheaply before the market values their climate action more highly.
Others worry the risk of losing value is making corporate boards reluctant to act to avoid catastrophic climate change, especially after governments at the United Nations talks in Glasgow this month failed to send a strong message that global warming can be capped at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).
There is currently no clear line of sight between climate investing and its impacts. Green (investment) portfolios have not yet equated to a green planet,” said Anthony Cowell, head of asset management at KPMG Islands Group.
EUROPEAN INVESTORS VALUE SUSTAINABILITY MORE
Kearney calculated the valuation of 481 companies globally as a function of their cash flows.
It then assessed their climate action using the Transition Pathways Initiative benchmark (TPI), an investor initiative launched in 2017 to assess companies’ response to climate change.
Where TPI scores were not available, Kearney looked at companies’ greenhouse gas emissions as a percentage of their revenue to assign ESG leadership or laggard status.
Steel, chemicals, cement and power companies in Europe with top-rated carbon reduction plans have an average valuation premium of 62% to peers who are climate action laggards, the Kearney analysis found.
In the rest of the world, that premium is 25%, demonstrating that European investors value sustainability more than others globally.
Companies with higher climate scores in the aluminium, airlines, autos, diversified mining, infrastructure, maritime transport and oil and gas sectors show the opposite trend.
In Europe they trade at a 27% discount on average to environmental laggards, the analysis found. In the rest of the world, that discount is even wider – 41%.
Although many factors can skew a company’s valuation, Alexis Deladerriere, head of international developed markets equity at Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), said that in heavy-emitting sectors ESG scores were not reflected in a company’s valuation premium.
“There is basically no correlation – no valuation premium – for having a high ESG score in general or having a high ‘E’ score specifically,” Deladerriere said.
If you are behaving badly, if you are polluting and you’re not doing anything about it, do you get penalised for doing that? Unfortunately, not really in the short term.”
The energy and mining sectors are dominated by risks that can impact valuation, but still the evidence is that the very sectors with leading roles in decarbonising are not being rewarded for moving away from fossil fuels.
BP Plc (BP.L), for example, is viewed as a climate leader with a top “4STAR” TPI level. Yet it has a lower valuation, as measured by its enterprise value to cash flow ratio, than many ESG laggards with lower TPI scores, such as U.S. peer Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N).
In the mining sector, Rio Tinto Plc is considered a climate leader, with a TPI score of 4, but its valuation premium is less than a third of that of Freeport-McMoRan, which is a climate-laggard by the TPI measure, Kearney’s data showed.
BP, Valero and Rio Tinto did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Freeport-McMoRan said the company had made “significant progress” on climate in the last two years and is committed to “integrating our climate initiatives into our long-term business plans”.
As climate change becomes an even bigger focus for markets and regulators, some corporate directors say boards will start to take stronger action on climate change as more investors begin to give them credit for it.
“Every company wants to figure out how to do (sustainability) quickly and easily because it’s a shorter return on investment,” said Orlando Ashford, a director on the boards of companies including drug maker Perrigo and solar energy equipment manufacturer Array Technologies.
“If you fold it into the construct of how you are running your business it will take longer, but it’s not a fad,” Ashford said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Simon Jessop in London Additional reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Barbara Lewis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Advancing green mobility for a sustainable future
Accelerating decarbonisation, the transition to SDVs and reshaping urban ecosystems, are helping revolutionise the global automotive industry
By Amit Chadha, CEO & Managing Director, L&T Technology Services
The world is changing. There is an urgent need for a transition toward sustainable practices to combat the threat of climate change. As global temperatures rise and weather patterns evolve, achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 could still help prevent irreversible damage to our planet.
With global carbon emission levels continuing to rise at an accelerated rate, there is a growing momentum toward addressing the scenario on war footing. As the most visible source of emissions, the automotive industry, and, consequently, the future of mobility, is in focus. By helping accelerate decarbonisation, reshape evolving urban ecosystems, and redefine the global automotive industry – we can help reverse the trend and preserve our shared future.
Green mobility has emerged as a major enabler in this direction. Leading stakeholders are becoming increasingly invested in developing a deeper understanding of the multifaceted realm of green mobility and its potential to shape a sustainable future.
Accelerating decarbonisation: A global mandate
Decarbonising the transportation sector is crucial to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Fossil fuel-based vehicles are responsible for a substantial portion of carbon dioxide emissions, exacerbating the greenhouse effect. To accelerate decarbonisation, governments and businesses today need to prioritise the adoption of clean, renewable energy sources, such as electricity and hydrogen, for powering vehicles and other modes of public transportation.
Automakers, recovering from the impact of the pandemic and global supply chain disruptions, are therefore exploring new avenues to meet the rising demand for electric mobility. Electric vehicles (EVs), by eliminating the need for fossil fuel-powered engines, play a vital role in improving overall air quality and have emerged as a promising solution for reducing carbon emission levels. They are capable of meeting the diverse needs of all kinds of drivers and offer affordable mobility and maintenance options. Recent advancements in battery technology, including the growing availability of charging infrastructure and incentives for adoption, have led to a significant rise in the EVs popularity.
However, to achieve widespread adoption of electric vehicles, there is a need to address key issues such as battery disposal, supply chain sustainability, and equitable access to EV technology.
Reshaping urban ecosystems: Driving the frontiers of change
Urban areas are central to the momentum around green mobility transformation. As growing global populations gravitate towards cities – congestion, pollution, and limited availability of green spaces have emerged as major challenges. As a result, cities must increasingly reinvent themselves to promote sustainable mobility and improve the quality of life for their residents.
Smart technologies and vertical green systems can contribute to a reduction in the energy demands of buildings by providing shade and insulation, mitigating urban heat islands, and cooling down public spaces. They also enable carbon sequestration, a reduction in pollution levels, and improvements in biodiversity.
Implementing efficient transportation systems, such as buses and trains powered by clean energy, can further reduce individual vehicle usage, traffic congestion, and emissions. Pedestrian-friendly infrastructures, cycling lanes, and micro-mobility solutions like e-scooters and bike-sharing programs can further help promote eco-friendly transportation choices. At a macro-infra level, smart city technologies and data-driven urban planning practices are helping optimise traffic flow, reduce idling times, and minimise fuel consumption.
Integrating green mobility into urban ecosystems is therefore a win-win proposition – fostering cleaner air, enhanced mobility options, and healthier communities.
From a public health perspective, improved air quality can drive a decline in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases linked to air pollution. Healthier citizens translate to a more productive workforce and reduced healthcare costs, further strengthening the growing impetus for vehicle electrification. The shift towards vehicle electrification offers significant economic benefits, including greater job creation, enhanced research and development, and greater investments in sustainable innovations. A consequent reduction in the demand for fossil fuels, scarce in terms of availability and mostly imported, in turn, helps enhance energy security and stabilise fuel prices.
Software Defined Vehicles: Pioneering the change
The global automotive industry is at the core of driving the emerging frontiers of green mobility. Traditional automakers and new entrants are racing to produce eco-friendly vehicles, and this competitive spirit, in turn, is transforming the industry landscape.
Automakers worldwide need to embrace sustainable practices by reducing their carbon footprint during the production process and implementing circular economy principles. Moreover, investing in research and development of alternative materials and manufacturing processes can lead to lighter, more energy-efficient vehicles. The rise of autonomous vehicles presents an opportunity to optimise transportation networks, enhance traffic flow, and reduce accidents. Leveraging this technology, in combination with electric and shared mobility solutions, can lead to a more sustainable and efficient future for transportation.
Software would play a key role in this direction, delivering a streamlined passenger and driver experience paradigm while ensuring conformity with the evolving regulatory standards. With Software Defined Vehicles (SDVs) increasingly constituting a focus area for major automakers worldwide, the future would witness a greater demand for digital engineering services to unlock new value streams.
The importance of ecosystem partnerships
Automotive industry stakeholders are already working with ER&D partners who can deliver across the value chain and understand each of the key parameters in the EV/SDV ecosystem. However, approaching separate vendors for product conceptualisation, design and development, testing, maintenance, manufacturing and after-sales support can increase costs and complexities.
An ER&D partner, equipped with multi-industry expertise, digital engineering capabilities, and a co-innovation commitment, can help drive transformation initiatives for transportation enterprises, overcoming technology constraints with cross-vertical learnings. Leveraging global delivery capabilities, the partner can also provide computing models that consume less energy, boost performance, and optimise data-led algorithms. In addition, they can enable scalable software stacks that leverage sensors and physical components to provide the safety and performance that electric vehicles need.
ER&D companies are also increasingly being called upon to help redefine focus areas with software, ensuring third-party integration, driving feature deployment, enabling CloudOps and fast over-the-air updates. The rising complexities within the connected car landscape further call for adopting software-defined designs that can overcome multi-layered challenges – ranging from development to subsequent deployment, maintenance, and updates.
A multi-stakeholder approach
Achieving the goal of green mobility demands collaboration among various stakeholders. Governments play a crucial role in enacting policies and regulations that incentivise the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies. Subsidies for EVs, emission standards, and urban planning regulations are some of the ways governments can drive the transition towards greener mobility.
Private sector involvement is equally critical. Corporate sustainability initiatives, investment in research and development, and partnerships for innovative mobility solutions can accelerate the transformation. Additionally, consumer awareness and support for eco-friendly practices are essential in shaping market demands and influencing business decisions.
Advancing green mobility is a pivotal step towards a sustainable future. By accelerating decarbonisation, embracing the transition to SDvs, reshaping urban ecosystems, and revolutionsing the automotive industry, this can combat climate change on a significant battleground. The collective efforts of governments, industries, and individuals are crucial in driving this transformation.
Embracing green mobility is therefore not just about reducing emissions, but rather, about fostering a healthier, cleaner, and more resilient world. It is about our common future –striving together toward a prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable tomorrow.
The Perils of “Fast Homewares”: Rethinking Consumerism for a More Sustainable Future
by Brian Walmsley, founder of ReBorn
In a world obsessed with constant consumption and rapid turnover of goods, the term “fast homewares” has become emblematic of a troubling trend in the UK and beyond. It refers to the relentless purchase of cheap, disposable home goods, often produced in the Far East from virgin materials, which inevitably break easily and are, regrettably, mostly unrepairable. This cycle of short-lived homewares has dire consequences, including detrimental effects on carbon emissions, landfill sites, and sustainability efforts. With an estimated 70 million items of homeware discarded to UK landfills each year, it’s time to confront the challenges posed by fast homewares and usher in a more responsible, sustainable approach to home goods consumption.
Homewares: An Economic Giant with an Unsustainable Cost
The homewares industry is huge, representing a significant part of the UK’s retail landscape, boasting sales worth approximately £26 billion annually. Major retailers such as John Lewis, IKEA, Amazon, Dunelm, NEXT, eBay, and numerous others have built their empires on this lucrative sector. However, the enormous success of companies such as these also comes with a hefty environmental price tag.
The Dark Side of Fast Homewares
Fast homewares perpetuate a cycle of overconsumption and waste, primarily due to the low-quality materials used in their production. These items are designed to be cheap and disposable, encouraging consumers to replace them frequently. As a result, valuable resources are squandered and an alarming amount of waste is generated, much of which ends up in landfills.
Landfills in the UK are inundated with discarded homewares that are not biodegradable. The degradation process of these items is slow, releasing harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater, further harming the environment.
The production and transportation of fast homewares also contributes significantly to carbon emissions, particularly when manufactured overseas and shipped to the UK. This extensive supply chain emits greenhouse gases at various stages, exacerbating climate change.
The Road to Redemption: A Sustainable Homewares Industry
The solution to the fast homewares crisis lies in reimagining the industry’s fundamental principles. Instead of prioritizing low cost and disposability, we should shift our focus to quality, durability, and sustainability. Embracing the principles of the circular economy, which emphasize repairability and recyclability at the end of an item’s life cycle, is essential. This approach aligns with the concept of “cradle to cradle,” where products are designed to be regenerated or repurposed, minimizing waste.
Producers and retailers should consider ‘Quality over Quantity’ focusing on areas such as:
Durable Goods: Manufacturers should produce homewares built to last. Investing in high-quality materials and craftsmanship will reduce the need for frequent replacements, ultimately benefiting consumers and the environment.
Repairability: Homeware products should be designed with ease of repair in mind. Providing repair services and spare parts ensures that items can be fixed rather than replaced, extending their lifespan.
Recycled Materials: Utilizing recycled materials in the production of homewares significantly reduces the demand for virgin resources, lowering the industry’s environmental footprint.
Closed-Loop Systems: Creating closed-loop systems for homeware materials, where products can be recycled and remanufactured indefinitely, aligns with the circular economy’s goals.
Local Supply Chains: A local supply chain enhances transparency and traceability, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy.Moreover, producing and sourcing homewares locally drastically reduces the carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping, benefiting both the environment and the local economy.
ReBorn Homewares: Pioneering a Sustainable Revolution
It is these challenges and opportunities that led to the creation and launch of ReBorn® homewares. This innovative company is committed to redefining the way we think about homewares, with a focus on style and sustainability.
The ReBorn range is all made in the UK from recycled materials and are circular by design. This means that all items can be repaired or “ReBorn again” in future. The Wiltshire based team prioritizes quality over quantity, ensuring that its products stand the test of time. Their items are designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and durable.
Moreover, by sourcing all materials and opting to manufacture locally, this significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance transportation.
Join the Sustainable Homewares Movement
To address the urgent issues posed by fast homewares, we all play a role in reimagining the industry. Consumers can make a difference by choosing quality over quantity, opting for repairable and sustainable homewares, and supporting companies that prioritize responsible production methods.
Retailers, too, have a crucial part to play by reevaluating their sourcing and production practices. They can collaborate with manufacturers like ReBorn to offer sustainable, locally sourced products to their customers.
The homewares industry’s transformation into a more sustainable and environmentally conscious sector is not only possible but imperative. By embracing durable, repairable, and locally sourced goods, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, minimize waste, and pave the way for a more responsible and sustainable future.
Let us all be part of this journey towards a sustainable homewares industry that benefits us, our planet, and generations to come. The time for change is now.
A bank’s ESG record depends on how its technology is built
Source: Finance Derivative
By Tony Coleman, CTO, Temenos
ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) has become mission-critical for banks, from meeting regulatory obligations to aligning with customer values to win market share.
Many banks have turned to technology to manage their ESG position. But technology is not a panacea. It also presents a risk that banks fall short of their ESG targets.
Technology that greens
Let’s look at the environmental pillar. Run on-premises or in a private datacentre, technology can be a big consumer of carbon. But deployed with the right infrastructure partners, it can enable banks to reduce their carbon footprint. Cloud is the best example of this. Banks that outsource their computing infrastructure to the public cloud hyperscalers can benefit from their economies of scale and energy efficient build principles.
The geographical spread and scale of these datacentres allows for carbon-aware computing, which involves shifting compute to times and places where the carbon intensity of the grid results in lower carbon emissions. One study of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure concluded its datacentres emit 98% less carbon than traditional enterprise IT sites. These hyperscalers have a focussed mindset and the deep pockets to match. The new Graviton3 processors that AWS is now installing in its public datacentres, which claims to use 60% less energy than the standard X86 models that have been in wide circulation, is an example of the progress that only a hyperscaler can achieve.
The green benefits ‘of the cloud’ are enhanced by software purposefully built to run ‘in the cloud’. Software vendors that are committed to decarbonising their solutions in the build phase pass those wins down the supply chain to banks. For example, the latest version of the Temenos Banking Cloud was built with a 12% improvement in carbon efficiency. How the software operates can have an even more profound benefit for banks. For example, banking software that runs ‘scale-to-zero’ protocols will automatically shut down or scale down availability according to demand for its service. This is one factor that has contributed to a 32% carbon efficiency improvement in the run time of the latest Temenos Banking Cloud release.
Collecting this evidence is not simply an internal tracking exercise. Regulations are reaching a point where publishing data against ESG targets will be legally mandated. In Europe the ECB and the Bank of England have launched climate risk stress tests to assess how prepared banks are for dealing with the shocks from climate risk. Meanwhile, initiatives like the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance (representing over 40% of global banking assets), the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Principles for Responsible Banking add to the clamour for banks to evidence their progress. Tracking ‘Scope 3 emissions’, which includes all indirect emissions that are not owned or controlled by the bank, is the next phase. Recognising this, Temenos has developed a carbon emissions calculator, which gives our customers deeper insight into carbon emissions data associated with their consumption of Temenos Banking Cloud services.
The same concept can be extended to a bank’s customers, with carbon calculators and automated offsetting schemes that help people build towards their personal environmental goals. Doing so brings a bank’s green credentials into the public sphere, turning environmental initiatives into commercial opportunity.
Flowe, a cloud-enabled digital bank built on green principles, launched in June 2020. It is the first bank in Italy to be certified as a B-Corp and has been able to maintain its overall carbon footprint close to zero, saving 90.81% – 96.06% in MTCO2e emissions compared to the on-premise alternative. Within six months of launch, 600,000 mainly young Italians had become customers, at one point onboarding 19 new customers per second. This rapid launch and growth was only possible with the agility and scalability of cloud. Read more about this story.
Technology that reaches
Cloud also enables financial inclusion, a key tenet of ESG ambitions. Today, anyone with a mobile phone and internet connection can access banking services. With elastic scalability and software automation, banks have an almost limitless capacity to serve more customers. And they might not be where you think; 4.5% of US households (approximately 5.9 million) were “unbanked” in 2021. In the past, banks would have seen them as unprofitable targets. But as cloud and the associated automations cut go-to-market and operational costs, the commercial case for inclusion becomes stronger.
Embedded finance gives banks another avenue of reach. Via simple APIs, banks can provide their solutions to non-financial businesses. This ready-made audience might otherwise take years to reach through a bank’s own marketing and sale channels. The embedded finance market is set to be worth $183 billion globally in 2027. That can be seen as a proxy of greater financial inclusion.
AI offers another opportunity to improve financial inclusion. Armed with AI, banks can deliver highly personalised products and experiences for customers. People can be directed to the most appropriate investments, including funds that promote sustainability and loans made with a better understanding of the applicant’s ability to pay it back. ZestAI (previously Zest Finance), a leading provider of AI-powered credit underwriting, claims that banks using its software see a 20%- 30% increase in credit approval rates and a 30-40% reduction in defaults.
But mismanaged, AI can have a dark side. If the data used to train them has bias, systems will perpetuate these discriminations. This can lead to unequal access to financial services and unjust or irresponsible credit decisions. In a study conducted by UC Berkeley, Latin and African-American borrowers were found to pay 7.9 and 3.6 basis points more in interest for home-purchase and refinance mortgages respectively, representing $765 million in extra interest per year. What’s more, AI algorithms are often complex and difficult to understand, so it is hard for customers to challenge decisions and for regulators to enforce compliance.
ESG by design
So how do banks reconcile the ESG benefits of technology with the risks? The answer is in how the technology is built; or more specifically, in the principle of ESG by design.
ESG by design is the concept of incorporating environmental, social, and governance factors into new technology and software features from the outset. The desired outcome is that the solution’s architecture, functions and UX enable ESG optimisation. But it is enabled with a commitment that all decisions taken through the design and build phase are judged through the lens of ESG criteria and targets.
At Temenos, ESG by design is a core principle to how we build technology. Let’s unpick what that means in practice, with some examples.
- Shift-left is how we systematically embed ESG into our banking software services. It means estimating the potential carbon footprint of a new project from the start, and then working back to mitigate it at every stage. The same goes for usability, compliance, and other factors that impact ESG. Detecting and addressing issues earlier in the development process is more effective than taking remedial actions after the event, which risks both compromising the efficacy of the solution and increasing the cost and time of the development lifecycle.
- If there’s a choice to be made, banks should make it. Though ESG goals align with most bank’s commercial aspirations (i.e less carbon equals less cost, more choice and better experiences equals more customers) it is not binary. Banks will have varying appetites of commitment to ESG. Take scale-to-zero, which I referred to earlier. Limiting service availability and adding latency impacts the customer experience and regulatory SLAs, such as payment processing speeds.
The optimum balance is not a call for us, as the technology vendor, to make. Instead we give banks the parameters and configurabilities to make the choice themself. This higher degree of control encourages banks to (a) use carbon-aware computing solutions, and (b) engage with the technology with more purpose.
- Use technology to improve technology. Humans are fallible. AI is only as good as the people that program it. Their biases become the system’s biases. But the black box nature of many AI systems means that these biases go unnoticed. At Temenos we embed an explainable component to our AI tools (XAI). It allows us and our banking clients to understand how AI decisions have been made, and in doing so surfaces flaws that can be fixed. We extend this capability to a bank’s customers, allowing them to interrogate and challenge decisions.
- The complex supply chains in technology makes ESG a collaborative effort. The work we do at Temenos to support banks with their ESG goals would be undermined if our partners didn’t share our same commitment. That means working with hyperscalers and partners in our ecosystem, and opening ourself up to third party validation. We did just that, using an independent carbon calculation platform (GoCodeGreen) to assess our carbon efficiency. I shared the evidence earlier; a 32% carbon efficiency improvement in the run time of the latest Temenos Cloud release, and a 12% improvement in build time. These are the sort of independently verified data points that banks should be asking their technological providers to submit.
Collaboration also means being honest about what others can do better, and enabling their innovations. The Temenos Exchange has almost 120 vendors that are continually extending and improving our core solutions. These include Bud, an AI capability that drives highly personalised experiences for lending and money management; and Greenomy, that makes it easier for banks to capture sustainability data and report on it.
ESG by design is an holistic approach to all tenets of ESG: energy efficiency, financial inclusion, transparency and accountable governance. By working with technology partners that elevate ESG to a core design principle, banks can recognise a wide range of commercial opportunities and ensure compliance with evolving regulations. That should make ESG a core selection criteria of software vendors. Banks will want to find the evidence that their technology partners are as serious about ESG as they are; and that they have the design and build practices that bring these to life.