2. Yikes, where do we start?
It can be overwhelming to step into the proverbial healing waters of sustainability. While for most organizations ESG reporting is voluntary, it may come as a surprise that 103 stock exchanges have signed up to the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative and a subset of 25 have mandatory ESG reporting. The Reporting Exchange, for example, references over 2000 mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements and that’s before we get into specifics on data needs, availability, uncertainty, inconsistency and gaps.
In an effort to capture the perspectives of sustainability and ESG professionals here in Canada, in the fall of 2020, GLJ participated alongside our partners JWN Energy, Mark Taylor Associates and Cumulative Effects Environmental in the curation of a survey to industry. (Hopefully, you participated!)
Consistent with the increase in published corporate sustainability reports, the survey revealed very high degrees of support for ESG initiatives and very good alignment on priorities and initiatives for focus.
When queried on gaps, most respondents focused on:
- Perplexity digesting the myriad of standards
- Difficulties identifying appropriate metrics and gathering good data
- Challenges setting baselines and identifying material issues
- Frustrations establishing near term action plans and activating aligned decision-making consistent with corporate strategy
- A need for more clarity from regulators
- A shortage of human and financial resources
GLJ’s subsequent conversations with industry have underscored a need to bring our techno-business focus to sustainability and ESG action planning and assurance efforts. Without a sound understanding of both data gaps and technological gaps, sustainability professionals are hard pressed to understand the significance of the challenges at hand and what it will take to move forward. As such, GLJ’s SASB-and-GRI-credentialled sustainability professionals are available to answer your questions and provide as much horsepower or as little guidance as needed.
3. What’s the right next step for us?
One by one multi-national oil and gas companies and some of our biggest Canadian oil and gas companies are stepping up to the plate to establish net-zero 2050 targets.
On November 19, 2020, our federal government introduced Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, with the objective for Canada to achieve net-zero by 2050 and thereby meet our international commitments regarding climate change mitigation.
Since then, on May 26, 2021, Suncor joined the growing 2050 net-zero cohort establishing a near-term goal to reduce its emissions from 29 megatonnes in 2019 by 10 megatonnes for 2030; the plan is to reduce emissions in their base business while growing their business in renewable fuels, electricity and hydrogen.
Despite setting goals for 2050 or even 2030, the immediate conundrum of identifying the right next step remains. Each company, of course, will have its own unique material issues, strengths and opportunities to advance sustainability in real time.
The sustainability wheel below showcases GLJ’s comprehensive sustainability process from data gathering and target setting through to project planning and execution. While context and an understanding of the overarching process is of sincere benefit, we are finding that a surgical approach is often the right approach when it comes it identifying your next right step; GLJ works alongside our clients offering a deep toolbox, enabling rapid action informed by robust insights when and where needed.