What, specifically, is your media company’s environmental footprint? Time to find out

Back in September 2015, in an address at Lloyds of London, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney expressed worry about the world’s future financial stability due to climate change.

Carney was basically preaching to the choir: No matter how much ink climate change deniers get or how much attention conspiracy theorists receive, the insurance industry has been dealing with the reality of climate change.

Indeed, in the last 30 years alone, weather-related loss events have tripled, while insurance losses from these events increased fivefold over the same timeframe.

As a central banker, Carney looks at financial risks and stability over a much longer time horizon than the average individual or company executive would. His interests are well beyond the next quarter’s financial results; he looks at entire business cycles, political cycles, and the traditional mandates of authorities like central banks themselves.

He’s concerned with the financial stability of marketplaces and the economic resiliency of entire countries, and he is concerned with what he sees.

In his words: “The combination of the weight of scientific evidence and the dynamics of the financial system suggest that, in the fullness of time, climate change will threaten financial resilience and longer-term prosperity.”

The financial risks of climate change

As chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), a G20 body, he proposed a stronger framework to assess the market risks of companies to climate change back in October.

On December 4, 2015, at the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, Carney announced that Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and current UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, will be heading a special task force aimed at helping organisations understand and gauge their respective financial exposure to the risks of climate change.

There are currently around 400 organisations around the world tabulating carbon emissions from companies and groups, all with varying methods and measures. Carney advocates that a more streamlined voluntary set of disclosures with common and comparable metrics specifically focused on assessing risks would be valuable.

According to the FSB Web site, the task force will “develop voluntary, consistent, climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to lenders, insurers, investors, and other stakeholders.”

The FSB aims to help surface and give transparency to the carbon intensity and exposure of carbon costs to an organisation – not only an organisation’s products but also its assets and investments.

So what does this mean for media companies?

In the last post, we reviewed the potential costs (in the short term, at least) of increased green energy as part of our total energy mix. But under the new task force, we would definitely have to look at the entire production chain from pulp creation, newspaper production end-to-end, delivery, and subsequent recycling.

Now, add in related assets and investments, and soon investors will be demanding to see data on your carbon emissions exposure. With the new Paris deal in place, and the task force with a full mandate from the G20’s FSB, expect local governments to quickly figure out a carbon pricing scheme of some sort.

Have no ideas what your carbon output is? Then it’s time to call in the experts.

About Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

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