Never shy when it comes to matters green, the His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales made his feelings clear at the launch of Corporate Knights’ 2021 Global 100 Index, which ranks the 100 most sustainable large businesses in the world.
Whilst acknowledging that the listed businesses are “helping to move the world onto a more sustainable trajectory while leading by example”, he demanded more action to deliver the global low-carbon transition in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory.
So in a nutshell, well done but not well done.
The Corporate Knights are a list of 100 global companies who drew 41% of sales in 2020 from sustainable products and services. Plus, they allocated one-third of investments to dedicated sustainability activities. The ranking is based on a rigorous assessment of 8,080 companies with more than US$1 billion in revenues. Inclusion on the list also depends on linking top dog pay to sustainability-related KPIs and promoting gender equality and workers’ rights. The regional breakdown for companies in this year’s ranking are as follows: Europe (46), North America (33), Asia (18), South America (2), Africa (1).
Numero Uno this year is Schneider Electric SE, a French company providing digital energy and automation solutions.
Follow My Lead
Commenting on the Index launch, the Prince said: “This leadership is needed now, more than ever. In this regard, it is absolutely vital to focus on the fact that, at a global level, the sum of all the commitments made by countries to reduce emissions do not achieve the level of ambition needed for [2C].. let alone the 1.5C. What on Earth is the point of testing this world and nature to destruction?”
There was carrot. The Prince noted that markets are changing with “more businesses, investors, shareholders and consumers recognising the opportunity that a sustainable future affords”.
But also stick. The corporate changes were too slow and not universal.
He described his 40 year green struggle as an “uphill battle”.
The message to laggers was clear.
“With millions of new jobs needed as part of the post-pandemic recovery process, sustainable businesses are among the best bets. A recent study in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy indicated that investments in these enterprises produced three times as many new jobs as investments in, for instance, fossil fuels.
Equally, coronavirus was used to make lemonade.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that it is possible to mobilise the necessary resources and accelerate the timelines for transformative progress. It has also shown us how vital health is to human and economic well being. Therefore, for the sake of a safer and more sustainable future, let us join forces and waste no more time.
What On Earth?
Prince Charles recently made headlines with the launch of a new earth charter for businesses. Named for England’s ancient Magna Carta, the ‘Terra Carta” lists100 actions that adoptees must take for a sustainable future.
“I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to give their support to this ‘Terra Carta’, to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and planet over the coming decade,” urged the Green Prince.
The Terra Carta commits signatory businesses to recognise 2050 is as the cut-off for setting net-zero targets. More broadly, it outlines ten areas of action for a green recovery from the economic fallout of Covid-19.
Early signatories of the Terra Carta include AstraZeneca, Refinitiv, Heathrow Airport, EY, BP, Signify, Drax Group and Compass Group
Charles, 72, has championed environmental causes for decades. And his son seems to be a chip of the old royal block. Though Charles and Prince William had Covid early in the pandemic, both royals spent the year brainstorming new ways to combat climate change. In October 2020, William announced the Earthshot Prize. His vision? That this will become the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.