On the 27th January, two members of the WCIB, Court Assistant Jenny Knott (Chairman of the WCIB Finance Committee - pictured) and Hon Freeman Alderman & Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli joined a panel discussion organised by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) to discuss ESG - Environmental, Social and Governance issues. The event was organised over Zoom and was free for WCIB members to attend.
The debate was excellent, with speakers from a variety of backgrounds providing insightful comments on the role of ESGs in greening our economies. The key points made were around the usefulness of the ESG criteria and disclosures. The panellists debated a variety of topics, including the risk of ‘greenwashing’ resulting from self-regulation, need for political guidance as the market has failed to internalise the cost of polluting, and whether ESG standards will result in greener societies. It was also pointed out that many investors are still naive about green products and companies. They want to feel good about their investments being sustainable, with limited knowledge about the real ‘greenness’ of the companies, indices and funds that score well for their greenness or market themselves as green. After the debate, the polling numbers indicated that the discussion had resulted in a significant shift how the audience viewed the credibility of ESG standards, changing from 80 % to 60% thinking that ESG is essential to achieving sustainability. The closing remarks highlighted that finance, rating agencies and accountants cannot alone make companies greener, and the drive to make a real change has to come from the civic society, top of the companies and from political leadership
Many thanks to Jouini Aaltonen for the report