UK bosses walk sustainability talk

Top British bosses have talked up their sustainability credentials and the need for secure energy management in business. In a survey for the Carbon Trust, top business leaders have voiced […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Top British bosses have talked up their sustainability credentials and the need for secure energy management in business.

In a survey for the Carbon Trust, top business leaders have voiced their support for government measures and their concern that some companies are not acting on them.

Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of Kingfisher, said: “Rising energy prices are one of the biggest worries facing British businesses and yet by taking some relatively simple measures, energy bills can be drastically reduced to generate ongoing annual benefits for a bottom line. I’m sure many business leaders recognise the opportunities green growth represents, yet very few are actually investing to enable them to capitalise on this market.”

Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK & Ireland, said that sustainable businesses that invest in green economic growth “can cut costs, drive innovation, reduce risk and motivate employees”.

He added: “Working with the Carbon Trust to footprint and label our products has allowed us to reap those benefits as we continue on our path to zero environmental impact.”

Aviva chairman Lord Sharman said that sustainability was “sufficiently material to company performance to warrant disclosure, which is why Aviva attributes the same seriousness to reporting sustainability results as it does its financials”.

He added: “As a publicly owned organisation, it makes sense for us to stay ahead of oncoming mandatory carbon regulation.By getting third party accreditation of our carbon footprint from the Carbon Trust Standard, we can guarantee the same level of reliability and robustness of data for financial and non-financial reporting – making firms more attractive to investors and the financial markets.”

His views were echoed by Ronan Dunne, UK chief executive of O2, who stated that “a smart business is a sustainable business”.

“This is not just about the cost savings you can achieve through cutting waste,” he said. “If good business is about delivering on what your customers value, and if they increasingly demand sustainable products and services, then investing in this area makes business sense. From Sim-only deals which encourage customers to hang onto their handsets longer through to helping our corporate customers benefit from flexible working technologies, we are investing in green products and services because it’s good for our customers, which in turn means it’s good for us as a business.”

Marks & Spencer is already well-known as a sustainable retailer. Its director of CSR Richard Gillies said: “Through Plan A, our ethical and environmental programme, we’ve proved that doing the right thing makes complete business sense. By increasing our energy efficiency and creating new markets such as M&S Energy, Plan A is not only profitable but also helps the environment. We still face many challenges in becoming a truly sustainable business, but we know the green growth market offers us and other businesses huge opportunities. Because of this, we’ve long said that sustainability is critical to future business success.”