Can you tell us a bit about the session you will take part in at next week’s GRI Reporters’ Summit?
I am excited to be leading a workshop session at the GRI Reporters’ Summit. The session, entitled “Integrated climate-related topics”, is based on content presented as part of GRI’s GOLD Roundtables program on climate change. The advent of international agreements, such as the Paris climate deal, and increasing stakeholder demands for climate-related information have driven more and more companies to provide higher-quality data on their impacts on the climate. During this session, we will discuss the role business plays in responding to climate change, and how transparency and reporting support companies in addressing this global issue. In particular, we will focus on the main challenges that companies are facing when reporting on climate-related impacts within their value chains.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. What is the link between corporate reporting and the quest for solutions to the climate challenge?
In response to the new recognition of the critical role the private sector must play in responding to climate change, there is a growing and widely identified need for companies to provide high-quality information on the climate-related issues that are material to their business. This information is needed to empower decisions by companies, market participants and policy makers. This data can also redirect flows of capital toward low-carbon investment options, and inform smart policies that can help combat the negative impacts. Corporate reporting is one of the means by which companies can identify their climate risks as well as opportunities, adjust their strategies and take action. Reporting is also one the most effective ways to communicate with key stakeholders and to proactively manage these risks and opportunities. Transparency drives better performance on climate impacts.
Particularly in the US, there are people who question whether or not climate change is real. What's your message to the skeptics?
The overwhelming consensus within the scientific community is that the global climate is changing and mankind is the cause. 2016 was the hottest year on record. Before that it was 2015. 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century. The current warming trend is proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past thousands of years. The negative impacts that climate change can have on business and overall on human life are enormous. Therefore, any leader, in government or business, should consider climate change, at least from a risk perspective. The latest edition of The Global Risks Reports
, released annually by the World Economic Forum, indicates that leaders believe that extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation to be some of the top global risks.
Back at COP 21 in 2015, world leaders reached an historic agreement on how tackle climate change. What progress has been made since then?
COP21 was a historic moment on the international level. Companies’ reactions to this has been impressive. Many began taking steps to act in accordance with the agreement even before it became law in their jurisdictions. Based on data from CDP, released in September 2016, more than 600 major international corporations have already factored the Paris Agreement into their business plans. 200 companies, with a combined market capitalization of US $4.8 trillion, have committed to aligning emissions reduction targets with keeping the global temperature increase below 2°C.
What do you hope attendees of the Reporters' Summit will take away from your session?
I hope the session will offer an opportunity for attendees to reflect on the impact business can have on climate change, in achieving climate-related targets and on the need to provide high-quality sustainability data. The format of the session, in line with the GOLD Roundtables program, aims also at giving participants the possibility to interact with peers to discuss the main challenges they face when reporting on topics related to climate change. I am hopeful that participants will work together on possible solutions and walk away from the Reporters’ Summit empowered to work within their businesses to help tackle this important challenge.
The GRI Reporters’ Summit North America is a unique one-day symposium offering practical solutions, support and networking for sustainability reporting professionals. Join us in Scottsdale, Arizona on 13 February 2017 to boost your knowledge and connections in the fast-moving sustainability reporting field. Find out more and register here.