As stakeholder expectations continue to evolve and expand, corporate sustainability is moving up the boardroom agenda into all aspects of businesses and their value chains. More than ever, businesses see sustainability as a tool to share their values, mitigate risk and improve financial outlook.
Last year, Edison Energy launched its Sustainability practice as a resource to help clients set strategic roadmaps to achieve their emissions reduction goals. Since then, the sustainability practice has grown significantly, with Edison continuing to build out their team as client demand surges.
In October, Edison welcomed Tim Kidman, Managing Director of the company’s Sustainability team, who will manage corporate strategy around climate change for organizations seeking to meet their sustainability, resilience, and carbon reduction goals.
Prior to joining Edison, Kidman served as a practice leader at a global sustainability firm, where he managed and supported Fortune 500 companies in science-based targets, net zero commitments, decarbonization roadmaps, life cycle analysis, and disclosures.
A former Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy and Policy Manager at Climate Action Reserve, Kidman has supported the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board in implementing mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting.
“I’m excited to be here at what feels like the ground floor for this team,” Kidman said. “We have an incredible opportunity to build out a practice that knits together a lot of what Edison is already doing but helps structure those services to clearly articulate a consistent sustainability strategy for our clients. This market is incredibly active and hot right now, and the world needs more experts like us dedicated to helping our clients meet the challenges ahead.”
“I’m looking forward to bringing those people in, expanding our capabilities, and building a team that can rise to that challenge.”
Much of that work must be done across the private sector, which is responsible for a sizable portion of the world’s historical GHG emissions. Strong and sustained reductions in these emissions, however, would significantly help limit climate impacts, according to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“There’s broadly a recognition that we’re not doing enough,” Kidman said, noting the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
The summit resulted in the Glasgow Climate Pact–the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to phase down coal. The agreement also calls for more urgent emissions reductions and climate funding for developing countries. And while many agree that pledges from participating countries do not go far enough to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, the deal includes plans to revisit emissions-cutting plans next year.
Major players across the private sector have been driving climate action as well. In his recent annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink pointed to the direct financial impacts of climate change, noting that energy companies have been taking “billions in climate-related write-downs” on stranded assets.
Fink also noted the “significant economic opportunity” created by the clean energy transition, sharing that “no issue ranks higher than climate change on our clients’ lists of priorities.”
“That moves markets,” Kidman said. “People have really stepped up. Those who were already leaders are thinking about what’s next, and the goals and commitments that were cutting edge just a few years ago are becoming table stakes for new entrants. Another other exciting change in recent years is a more comprehensive focus on the value chain. While much of the focus historically has been on consumer-facing companies or companies with big institutional investors, we’re now seeing all of those companies pushing on their supply chain where much of the impact really occurs. The pressure is getting passed down.”
Edison Energy is currently engaged with a host of clients to help them reduce their Scope 3 emissions, which often represent most of an organization’s total GHG emissions. In addition, these carbon reductions are part of the larger imperative to ensure energy equity across communities.
“There’s more and more emphasis–and rightly so–on making sure that we have a just transition to a low-carbon economy and the role that equity, diversity and environmental justice play in that,” Kidman said. “More and more clients are thinking about those issues, looking not just at how we decarbonize but how we decarbonize so that the benefits of that flow to the communities who have been most impacted historically. I’m excited by the opportunity to integrate some of that thinking for our clients. And now is the time to do it.”
Kidman noted recent supply chain disruptions and critical staffing shortages resulting in a broad range of impacts, from delayed solar projects to empty store shelves. But the current disruptions could easily reflect future climate-driven delays.
“We’ve seen the results of supply chain disruptions–we’re seeing it right now,” Kidman said. “I think people are recognizing that this was Covid, but similar supply chain disruptions could very well be climate-driven in the future. It’s a stark reminder of how exposed the economy and individual companies may be to the risks posed by climate change, and the urgency with which we must evaluate climate risk and establish more resilient systems. This could have been climate-driven, and next time it might be. We don’t want to be as exposed as we are right now.”