In an article published in the Financial Times on May 7, Christiana Figueres and Benjamin Zycher argue both sides of the issue as to whether sustainability momentum should or will continue in the face of the current economic turmoil around the world.
Figueres argues that the issue is too important to the world’s future climate security to disregard, and she cites the recent statement by BlackRock Group’s CEO Larry Fink, who said, “Our investment conviction is that sustainability- and climate-integrated portfolios can provide better risk-adjusted returns to investors.” She also cites data from Morgan Stanley, which puts the cost of “weather and climate” disasters in the U.S. alone at $309 billion in 2017.
On the other side of the argument, Zycher contends that continued aggressive pursuit of sustainability at this time will put a high burden on economies, due to the higher real cost of unconventional energy. He argues, “Expensive energy and reduced economic growth cannot be consistent with renewed employment growth after the pandemic.” He points to the importance of inexpensive energy, especially to the world’s poor.
In the middle sits David Blackmon, a noted energy commentator, who write regularly for Forbes. Blackmon is normally, in a reasoned way, very supportive of the U.S. energy industry. However, he has written recently in both Forbes and Shale Magazine, castigating the U.S. oil industry for failing to take seriously the negative impacts of flaring, as well as methane releases from non-functioning flares, in the Permian Basin and across the U.S. This has negatively impacted public attitudes towards oil and gas.
So what are the spectrum of views on sustainability globally that reflect the global asset-intensive industries? And what are the plans of energy and chemical companies?
ARC Group is just completing a global survey, answered by over 250 companies, directed by analyst Peter Reynolds and sponsored by AspenTech, to understand the sustainability views and plans of energy, chemical, mining, power and engineering companies. The survey explores how companies rank sustainability vis-a-vis other initiatives, and how technologies and digitalization are viewed as strategic in effectively addressing sustainability metrics set by companies.
In fact, leading energy and chemical companies today are achieving some real progress in both carbon use reduction and in transparency to the public, through the application of digital technologies. These range from asset-wide sustainability monitoring applications (such as the one implemented in the Shah gas field by ADNOC) to emissions-modeling solutions (like the one implemented recently at BPCL’s Kochi refinery) to energy-optimization solutions across the globe.
To learn more about the detailed results of this timely survey, as well as the ways companies are now applying digitalization to improve sustainability, watch the on-demand version of our recent webinar co-sponsored by Hydrocarbon Processing, ARC Group and AspenTech.