by John A. Herbert
Looking back over the last decade undoubtedly progress has been achieved, it cannot be denied, the relentless work of the few has moved the masses, that in turn increased corporations environmental awareness or has it?
In the USA, Unilever removed water from their detergent, the concentrate requires less volume, less packing, costs less to produce, and ship. In the UK, Marks and Spencer created Plan A with the goal to source responsibly. In China it was announced that all government vehicles, including the City and Province administration, shall use alternative fuel by 2016, and many others have joined the clan. But some businesses never made it, indeed we might need an endangers species list for businesses, and I’d put travel agents high on that list to follow the Dodo. Businesses that once relied upon scarcity of information, like booking an oversea hotel, have been overtaken in the internet age, it is easy to book your entire trip with only your phone. I am sure you can think of a few business models that will soon be defunct due to the internet, equally businesses that operate unsustainably the writing is on the wall too.
And amidst the usual corporate alphabet soup CSR seems to be lost cause, surpassed by the appearance of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) which is defined by the Financial Times as a generic term used in capital markets and used by investors to evaluate corporate behaviour and to determine the future financial performance of companies.
However, EMSD data reports the total annual energy consumption trend in Hong Kong continues to rise, which is disturbing and I find contradicts the great progress reported.
Unsurprisingly, listed corporations are hiring, but not energy managers as you might think, but ESG managers. Real sustainability demands action on energy period, there is no shortcut, without energy ESG managers are superfluous if there is no business to evaluate.
Firms to watch are those businesses that have already saved millions of dollars reducing costs and risk through sound energy planning.