Thinking green and how to become more sustainable
12 August 2022

Environmental consciousness has become a major non-financial factor for businesses over the past few decades. The term ‘ESG’ entailing environmental, social, and governance factors, is employed to weigh how far companies have progressed and will be progressing in the future on all these determinants of their sustainability. The score of their sustainability does play a vital role for the investors in the process of their investment screening.

ESG relevancy for Business

While the other two determinants, social and governance of companies’ sustainability are in no way to be assumed less important, the environment is of the essence. Environmental factor has been able to gain more traction in the business world due to the mass awareness of climate change and global warming. Environmental factors do not affect only businesses but also our society, country as well as the world at large. The number of business industries that are being affected directly or indirectly by the consequences of climate change, is rising briskly. Such rapid environmental changes have been worrying many established businesses in the market along with the small ones. It has been found in a study that the U.S. alone could lose USD 520 billion across 22 sectors due to global temperature rise.

The concern as regards climate change and global warming has become a key factor for investors. In less than two decades, ever since the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report ‘A Legal Framework for the Integration of Environmental, Social and Governance Issues into Institutional Investment’, in the year of 2005, ESG investing which is known as socially responsible investing has evolved into a USD 35 trillion industry. According to the money managers who oversee one-third of the total U.S. assets under their management, assets managed in portfolios labeled ‘ESG’ are expected to reach USD 53 trillion by 2025. (Bloomberg Intelligence, ESG assets may hit USD 53 trillion by 2025, a third of global AUM, published on: 23 February 2021)

The above figures manifestly show the growing desire of investors to create a positive impact on society, the country, and the world at large through their investments. These figures also reveal an exponential sense of ethics and fiduciary responsibility amongst the investors.

Such inclination of the investors obliges businesses to score well in ESG rating. A systematic and long-term plan can help them score well. It will also help them to see where they stand in the market in comparison with their peers as regards the sustainability of their businesses.

The ‘Green Blueprint’

Businesses may opt for a ‘Green Blueprint’ that will be premised upon ‘zero tolerance’ against any business activity that is detrimental to our environment, and will entail the below:

  1. compliance with the national and international laws and regulations relating to environmental issues (different measures have been taken at the national, regional, and international level to tackle the climate crisis, such as the European Parliament has recently voted to set a 2035 deadline for zero-emissions cars and vans which is being seen by many as a huge step forward for climate action, air quality and the affordability of electric vehicles. Green group Transport & Environment called on EU environment ministers to confirm the effective end date for sales of new combustion engines when they meet on 28 June 2022. (Transport & Environment, EU Parliament backs 2035 end date for combustion engine cars, published on 8 June 2022));
  2. creating consumer awareness of climate change and global warming which would drag the consumers towards green products (McKinsey research shows that more than 70 percent of customers would pay an additional 5 percent for a green product if they were satisfied that it met the same standards as a non-green alternative);
  3. low-carbon business strategy;
  4. less dependency on the natural resources than its peers;
  5. having apt financial arrangements to deal with rising costs that ensue from climate change.

The proposed ‘Green Blueprint’ can help businesses become more sustainable and be well ahead of their peers in the market.

Closing thoughts

In an age where environmental consciousness has become a paramount concern, the significance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors cannot be overstated. While social and governance elements hold their own importance, the environment takes center stage due to escalating awareness of climate change and its global implications. The rapid and widespread impacts of environmental shifts on businesses and society have prompted a surge of concern among investors. This has driven the growth of ESG investing, with assets under management reaching staggering figures, underscoring a growing ethical responsibility among investors to make a positive societal impact.

This growing investor inclination compels businesses to prioritize high ESG scores, necessitating long-term strategies aligned with sustainability. A ‘Green Blueprint’ emerges as a potential solution, emphasizing strict compliance with environmental laws, fostering consumer awareness, adopting low-carbon strategies, resource efficiency, and prudent financial planning for climate-related costs. Embracing such a blueprint can empower businesses to lead in sustainability and outpace competitors, forging a path towards a more environmentally conscious and resilient future.