Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

January 28, 2021 by  
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Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting Heather Clancy Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:30 The events of 2020 thrust the issue of corporate sustainability front and center in many C-suites. With that heightened visibility comes questions about accountability and accounting — specifically carbon accounting. It’s a dilemma decades in the making: How to properly track and declare a company’s carbon dioxide emissions in real time, not just in lag time after an annual data hunt. One year ago, cloud software powerhouse Salesforce began touting its answer with the general availability of the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, a platform for providing real-time access to ESG data such as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The application was first developed internally for the company’s sustainability team and then spun out into a product meant to help companies collect data for sustainability reporting purposes. This week, Salesforce turned to digital services firm Accenture to accelerate its push to get more companies — especially those already using its Customer 360 platform — to adopt its carbon accounting platform.  Their pitch is that businesses need a digital platform of this nature in order to truly embed ESG metrics and considerations into business decisions. It’s a push to produce “investor-grade” climate data. And, with the leap forward in digitization over the past year, they’re amplifying their push. The announcement also dovetails with a declaration of support this week for “universal” ESG reporting standards advocated by the World Economic Forum. More than 60 big companies have endorsed the framework — including Accenture and Salesforce, but also the likes of KPMG, Deloitte, EY, Dell, Mastercard, IBM and PayPal ( it’s a long list ).  This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. By teaming with Accenture, Salesforce hopes to help companies add industry-specific considerations to their dashboards. What’s more, Accenture and Salesforce intend to work together to expand the platform so it can be used to track other metrics that are front-of-mind for companies, including waste management, water consumption and diversity and inclusion data. “Our research shows that more and more companies realize that a sustainable business strategy means more than just ‘doing good’ — it means ‘doing well by doing good,'” noted IDC senior research analyst Bjoern Stengel in a statement. “This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets.” Salesforce is clearly the biggest cloud software company staking a claim in the emerging carbon accounting software category. While few players are on the field, it’s certainly not the only one positioning to score. I fully expect this year to be abundant with declarations of funding and such by cloud software companies focused on making sustainability reporting more accessible and investor-friendly.  Here are four players I’ll be watching more carefully. (I’ve excluded those linked to energy consulting services or those focused on compliance or managing safety regulations.) Refreshingly, none of them are from Silicon Valley:  Accuvio , an accredited CDP reporting partner, hails from the U.K. and many of its clients are there, including Cobham, West Fraser and Babcock International. ClearTrace (formerly SwychX), which automates carbon emissions and energy data collection for enterprises, investors and real-estate firms, in December raised $4 million. Among early users of its platform are Brookfield Renewables (also an investor) and JPMorgan Chase. Envizi , an Australian firm with customers including Microsoft and Qantas. Its partner list is impressive and includes Accenture, CBRE and Cushman Wakefield.  FigBytes , which last year integrated the reporting metrics from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, cites customers including Akamai and Taylor Farms.  My question from last week’s column bears repeating: When was the last time you spent time with your company’s CIO? If companies with net-zero goals have any hope of making those targets, the metrics need to be part of core business IT systems — and the carbon accounting software for supporting that progression is finally starting to emerge.  Pull Quote This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy Reporting Information Technology Decarbonization Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

Behind the coming ESG disclosure explosion

January 28, 2021 by  
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Behind the coming ESG disclosure explosion Jean Haggerty Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:00 This analysis of ESG and sustainable finance issues originally appeared in GreenFin Weekly, our free email newsletter. Sign up here . As we begin another year of what’s being referred to in climate circles as the “decade to deliver,” it is being defined by ESG, driven by shareholders and aided by new disclosure requirements on climate risk and human capital management.  “The bottom line is that businesses now actively compete for capital based on ESG performance, and that competition needs to be open, fair and transparent,” Allison Herren Lee, acting chair of the Securities and Exchange Commissioner, said .  A lot of the information that investors want is not included in company financial filings or sustainability reports, which in the U.S. currently rely on voluntary ESG reporting standards and frameworks, said Anne Simpson, managing investment director for board governance and sustainability at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest U.S. pension fund. As a general matter, U.S. companies would be wise to take note of ESG developments in Europe. European Union legislation on sustainability reporting and disclosures far exceeds what the U.S. has in place, and European Central Bank regulations on ESG are in the process of being implemented.  With a little help from my — shareholders?  Companies need to take stock of what investors are telling them and devoting their time and energy to enhancing their ESG reporting, said Hannah Orowitz, senior managing director at Georgeson, which provides strategic shareholder services to corporations and shareholder groups. This needs to be done before completing a sustainability report and keeping in mind that ESG factors directly influence investors’ proxy voting decisions. Every company needs a climate transition plan based on Climate Action 100+ benchmarks , added Andrew Behar, CEO of the shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow.  Several officials expect a pivotal 2021 shareholder season. According to Tomas Otterström, KPMG’s partner and head of responsible investment and sustainability services in Finland and Sweden, climate change, biodiversity and diversity/inclusion issues appear to be this year’s top proxy issues globally. In the U.S., racial equity, political spending and policy influence activity influence also will factor highly.  The bottom line is that businesses now actively compete for capital based on ESG performance, and that competition needs to be open, fair and transparent. As U.S. companies become more willing to make substantial changes to their policies and practices, the expectation is that fewer engagements will need to be escalated to shareholder resolutions. “The companies that listen and follow shareholders’ advice are reducing risk and will outperform over time — that’s why companies are becoming more receptive” to addressing ESG issues, Behar said.  “Companies need to realize that shareholders that engage them and escalate to file resolutions are their best friends. We are showing them ways to reduce risk, improve brand recognition, attract the best and the brightest and generally be more competitive … Shareholder advocacy is like a McKinsey for free.” Already, some companies, such as Union Pacific Railroad and the online travel provider Bookings Holdings, are being asked to put their carbon transition plans to a vote at their 2021 annual general meetings, according to Rob Berridge, director of shareholder engagement at Ceres.  The regs are coming Often, ESG investment strategies end up more closely aligning the objectives of a company with those of its long-term institutional investors. Essentially, three forms of capital are long-term drivers of value and sources of risk — financial, physical and human capital. To properly access risks requires complete, accurate and reliable information. “That starts with public company disclosure and financial firm reporting and extends into our oversight of various fiduciaries and others. Investors also need this information so they can protect their investments and drive capital toward meeting their goals of a sustainable economy,” SEC commissioner Lee told the Institute on Securities Regulation Conference in November.  All indications are that mandatory climate risk disclosure requirements for public companies are on the way. The Biden administration’s decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement cements this view. For countries to meet their Paris targets, they’ll need companies to transition toward net-zero goals and to measure progress using standardized, auditable and reliable corporate data.  Going global But measure how? The proposal by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation to create a new sustainable standards board is the leading pathway to making climate disclosure mandatory, Mark Carney , former governor of the Bank of England and current United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, said in a comment letter .  Others that commented on the IFRS Foundation’s consultation overwhelmingly supported the formation of a sustainability standards board. In their comments, many also highlighted the extent of the IFRS’s reach; the organization’s financial reporting standards are mandatory in 144 countries. Carbon Tracker Initiative pointed out that putting a sustainability standards board under the same umbrella as the International Accounting Standards Board, housed within IFRS, would help integrate sustainability and financial reporting.  There’s no shortage of prep work on how a sustainability standards board might operate. For example, there’s the paper by five leading NGOs on how their voluntary frameworks, standards and platforms could be used together, and another seminal white paper on converging the various ESG reporting standards. Companies need to realize that shareholders that engage them and escalate to file resolutions are their best friends. U.S. companies’ reporting on sustainability has been coalescing around the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Sustainability Accounting Standard Board’s (SASB) reporting frameworks.  According to Steven Nichols, head of ESG capital markets for the Americas at BofA Securities, the investment banking arm of Bank of America, many companies are setting annual goals and measuring their progress on ESG metrics such as those related to climate risk. A new Conference Board report on corporate disclosure and performance data across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific found that major corporations last year increased their sustainability disclosures in key areas, including climate-risk reporting, human rights and water stress exposure.  Eyeing Europe Under European Central Bank guidelines , which at this stage are non-binding, European banks must get their climate risk disclosures together this year. The ECB will be reviewing banks’ practices next year, with a view to conducting stress tests on climate risk next year.  At French investment bank Natixis, credit decision-makers already use two sets of indicators — one that looks at the environmental impact of a transaction and another that estimates the profitability of that transaction after taking into account material environmental impacts.  Natixis’ internal capital allocation tool, the Green Weighting Factor, already is changing origination. “A few years ago, environmental issues were not discussed in the credit process. Today, it’s a systematic part of the decision,” Karen Degouve, head of sustainable business development at Natixis, said.  Perhaps its greatest impact so far, however, has been the effect on the level of strategic dialogue the bank is having with clients, she added. Because the tool has been used internally only since September 2019, it is too early to say if it is changing client behavior, too. Pull Quote The bottom line is that businesses now actively compete for capital based on ESG performance, and that competition needs to be open, fair and transparent. Companies need to realize that shareholders that engage them and escalate to file resolutions are their best friends. Topics Finance & Investing Reporting GreenFin ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Behind the coming ESG disclosure explosion

Measuring the ROI for circularity soon may be easier

April 6, 2017 by  
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More companies are introducing circular concepts into their product manufacturing, but a full transition to circularity may need convincing metrics. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Accenture and UL EHS are working on it.

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Measuring the ROI for circularity soon may be easier

Sustainability Dispatches: Dawn Rittenhouse, DuPont

April 6, 2017 by  
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DuPont’s director of sustainability discusses how she balances ambitious aims and risk reduction strategies with business acumen.

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Sustainability Dispatches: Dawn Rittenhouse, DuPont

The 3 business risks of using fossil fuels

April 6, 2017 by  
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Smart companies are betting on clean energy to power their growth. These factors are powerful motivators.

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Can the ICT sector help grow a decarbonized economy?

June 22, 2015 by  
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ICTs generate over $11 trillion by 2030, helping to to grow the economy while reducing negative environmental impacts, a new report from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture finds.

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New big rig, bus rules could cut emissions by 1 billion tons

June 22, 2015 by  
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New proposed EPA rules drastically would cut carbon emissions and oil consumption by extra large vehicles.

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New big rig, bus rules could cut emissions by 1 billion tons

Siemens and Accenture plug into smart grid market with new firm

October 17, 2013 by  
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A new joint venture company launched by the two firms promises to deliver new service to support smart grid deployments.

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Siemens and Accenture plug into smart grid market with new firm

If CEOs hold the key to climate change, why aren’t they driving?

September 20, 2013 by  
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Business leaders want to do more but appear stuck, according to this massive CEO survey by the  U.N. Global Compact  and Accenture.

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If CEOs hold the key to climate change, why aren’t they driving?

5 ways to assess how green that chemical is

September 20, 2013 by  
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Here's a primer to help measure whether the chemicals your company uses are environmentally friendly, or are at least safer alternatives.

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