While it is often framed as a major risk, climate change is also a business opportunity. The low-carbon transition creates opportunities for innovation, efficiency and growth which extends beyond high-carbon industries such as energy and transport to all sectors. Companies can save energy and materials costs, serve new customer needs, enhance their reputations and better attract and retain talent — all as a consequence of working to reduce their emissions and those of their customers and suppliers.
Christopher Caldwell, CEO of United Renewables, entrepreneur and host of the Conversations on Climate podcast series spoke to London Business School’s Dr Ioannis Ioannou about myth-busting corporate sustainability.
The discussion, which was supported by United Renewables and London Business School’s Energy and Environment Club, began with Christopher Caldwell introducing Dr Ioannou as an “original” in the world of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). “Having focused on sustainability for his entire academic career, his particular specialisation is whether, or how, or to what extent capital markets and businesses can lead us to a sustainable future. He is also a deep thinker into the wider eco-system into how politics and academics and individuals fit into the wider structures of the ESG framework and how it is going to be embedded as a long-term successful strategy for a sustainable future.”
In the interview, Dr. Ioannou provides a fascinating deep dive into the world of sustainability and the relationship between sustainability and corporate performance. He also explores ESG as an investment theme and the problems associated with greenwashing, the geopolitics of sustainability and explores his own reimagining of the future.
“Think about Tesla, for example, and how it disrupted the automobile industry. Think about Beyond Food and Impossible Meats and how they disrupted their food industry. Think about how Oatly came in and disrupted natural milk. So in other words, the new market entry signifies to me that sustainability as a trend has created new market opportunities, and therefore especially a start-up that is born sustainable doesn't have the organisational inertia and the challenge of transforming, you can take advantage of these opportunities and you can scale,” says Dr Ioannou.
“So companies, in a sense, are now more legitimate to engage on this transformational journey that sustainability requires. However, this is the plague of our times, I think a lot of companies are trying to find the shortcuts. They're trying to cheat their way to responsibility.”
A more complete analysis of Dr Ioannou’s discussion can be read in This cost-of-living crisis was entirely predictable. Here’s how to future-proof society – and your own firm - for the next crisis. Published on LinkedIn by Christopher Caldwell.
The discussion, Myth-Busting corporate sustainability can be found on the PodBean site, or on YouTube.