A group of 36 CFOs and Financial Directors have signed a statement, published by Accounting For Sustainability (A4S), in support of achieving net zero emissions by the middle of the century.
The list of signatories includes CFOs and FDs from Mars, Unilever, National grid and Tesco. Collectively the organisations they represent are responsible for 35.1 million tonnes of direct emissions, and have the potential to influence 261.3 million tonnes of indirect emissions through their asset base and managed assets.
The statement shows key leaders in large organisations are committed to working towards achieving these goals which experts say could avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
A critical decade
Describing this challenge, the statement reads: “The next decade is critical. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of severe consequences of a failure to prevent global warming exceeding 1.5°C.
“To limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5°C, emissions need to halve by 2030, and drop to net zero by the middle of the century for the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.”
By signing the statement, the signatories have said they will contribute by achieving one or more of the following commitments:
- Aligning GHG emission reduction targets, across all relevant scopes, with 1.5°C emissions scenarios;
- Setting and validating science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative; or
- Publishing net zero emissions pathway, outlining trajectories towards net zero emissions.
The CFOs acknowledge their position in large businesses means that they “have an important role to play” in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. CFOs in particular are in role that means they can account for environmental factors when making financial decisions and developing strategies.
In the statement, the signatories say that their responsibilities include: “Raising and allocating the funds our organizations need for transition and adaptation, embedding greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions within our organization’s decision-making processes, and accurately tracking and reporting our performance against our reduction targets over time.”
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The reductions that the signatories have committed to are in-line with the Science Based Target initiative, and the commitments aim to build on these targets.
The CFOs and FDs who signed the statement also aim to provide leadership to other organisations, setting a good example. “Through our individual and collective actions, we aim to provide useful examples to other companies grappling with similar issues,” the statement says.
“While we see our role in addressing climate change within our companies as critical, we also wish to ensure other companies benefit from our experience. To this end, we hope our actions, strategies and progress can help other businesses as the world moves to a net zero emissions economy.”
A fundamental shift
A4S, the organisation that released the statement, says that it aims to inspire action by finance leaders to drive a “fundamental shift” towards sustainable business models and as established in 2004 by Prince Charles.
Speaking in May 2019 at the ACC Global General Counsel Summit in London on behalf of the A4S, he said: “It is absolutely crucial that we all do what we can to address these challenges.
“As a growing number of investors, regulators, academics, and others have highlighted, it does not need to be a choice between being profitable on the one hand and doing the right thing on the other.
“Both are achievable. Indeed, climate change is increasingly seen as a potentially material, financial risk, and one that must be treated accordingly,” he added.
Full list of signatories:
- Claus Aagaard, Chief Financial Officer, Mars
- Clifford Abrahams, Chief Financial Officer, ABN AMRO
- Andy Agg, Group Chief Financial Officer, National Grid
- Gregor Alexander, Finance Director, SSE
- Pat Bolster, Director of Finance, Environment Agency
- Kate Bowyer, Chief Financial Officer, The Crown Estate
- Geneviève Brouillette, Chief Financial Officer, Aldo
- Julie Brown, Chief Financial Officer, Burberry
- Steve Buck, Chief Financial Officer, Anglian Water
- Simon Carter, Chief Financial Officer, British Land
- Susan Davy, Chief Financial Officer, Pennon Group
- Javier Echave, Chief Financial Officer, Heathrow Airport Holdings
- Matthew Ellis, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Verizon
- Maria Ferraro, Chief Financial Officer, Siemens – Digital Factory
- Julien Gattoni, Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, World Economic Forum
- David Gregg, Interim Chief Financial Officer, Yorkshire Water
- Mark Hawkins, President and Chief Financial Officer, Salesforce.com
- Scott Herren, Chief Financial Officer, Autodesk
- Karen Higgins, Executive Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, The Co-operators Group
- Patrice Impey, Chief Financial Officer and General Manager of Finance, Risk and Supply Chain Management, City of Vancouver
- Mark Kaye, Chief Financial Officer, Moody’s
- Markus Kobler, Global Chief Financial Officer Finance and Controlling, Allianz Global Investors
- Lars Løddesøl, Executive Vice President & Group Chief Financial Officer, Storebrand
- Iain Mackay, Group Finance Director, GSK
- Geraldine, Matchett, Chief Financial Officer, Royal DSM
- Neelamani Muthukumar, Group Chief Financial Officer, Olam International
- Victor Pang, Chief Financial Officer, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
- Seppo Parvi, Chief Financial Officer, Stora Enso
- Maarika Paul, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec (CDPQ)
- Graeme Pitkethly, Chief Financial Officer, Unilever
- Zane Rowe, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, VMWare
- Henry Schirmer, Chief Financial Officer, Randstad
- Harmit Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.
- Alan Stewart, Chief Financial Officer, Tesco
- Heather Taylor, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer, City of Toronto
- Camilla Wirth, Chief Financial Officer, Alecta