I hope this finds you well. Thank you for publishing your letter to CEOs earlier this year. You made a compelling case to take the risks of climate change seriously.
Your letter created a stir. I am involved in corporate reporting projects with publicly listed companies and I have seen firsthand: you have fueled an appetite for greater disclosure. Fortunately a lot of people were already pushing for this from within companies, so in many cases your note put wind in their sails by catching the attention of their executives and investor relations departments, validating years of effort.
If I’m honest, initially I was annoyed that it took the prompt of a white, male, American CEO of an investment management company to invoke the obvious. But I got over that when I realized it was having an impact.
The recommendations you reference — those of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) — guide reporting efforts on a company’s approach to managing, measuring and scenario-planning in an era of accelerated, industry-generated climate change. I have sometimes called the TCFD the “Trojan horse of sustainability reporting,” thinking that if companies apply it they will confront disruptive — even transformative — truths which could lead to meaningful positive change.
But even with TCFD-oriented reporting ramping up, something was feeling a little out of whack. I decided to do a little digging to test some of these disclosures against a sense of what’s actually needed.
I chose a dozen companies to examine a little more closely* — a narrow yet diverse group from banking, energy, consumer goods, technology, shipping and mining. I enlisted the help of a friend who comes from the grassroots of the emergent regenerative economy to sense-check with fresh eyes. We focused on climate change only, although you reference the broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure needed. We felt that climate change is an interconnected and profound challenge that, when addressed, covers many of the other issues of relevance to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Hence for disclosure references our deepest dive was in the CDP database (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project).