With the vast majority of the world's asset managers, pension funds, multinational banks, and insurance companies continuing to invest largely as normal, is there a shortage of information available, or a failure to understand the risks of not divesting from fossil fuel assets?
It’s not business as usual. The big investors are changing course, albeit not as quickly as we’d like them to. We’ve seen numerous recent examples of increased fossil fuel divestment by major investment funds. There are also changes in the big pension funds. This is an area where UN Environment has been working very closely with the financial sector, precisely to increase an understanding of the risks and the know-how.
With SMEs accounting for over 99 % of enterprises in the EU, how important is it for them to adopt sustainable practices if we are to achieve the targets set out in the Paris agreement?
I would encourage SMEs to adopt sustainable practices not because of the Paris Agreement, but because of their own bottom line. The lesson from the big firms and the markets right now is that sustainable business is good business.
What advice do you have for organisations that are not currently monitoring or reducing their carbon footprint?
Firstly, that they’re doing the wrong thing – both for moral reasons and for business reasons. The markets are moving, and investors are increasingly looking at the prospect of an economy where carbon is priced. They’re looking for sustainable investments that will perform in a changed economy.
What do you think is the most effective method for businesses to ensure continuous improvement of their carbon footprint?
The biggest step is accurate measurement. That will enable businesses to identify carbon hotspots – which could be transportation, heating or cooling, supply chains or any other section of the business. If there was a single magic bullet solution to reduce carbon emissions, I’d say it’s getting good, actionable data.
The Planet Mark™ is helping businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint year-on-year. What advice do you have for businesses looking to cut their carbon?
I would tell companies that they should look at this change as similar to the digital revolution, that anyone who is not on board will be left behind!