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Resetting a CEO’s Carbon Mind

𝘚𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘮𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩

Of late, I have been reading a real lot on what the CEOs of the world are upto in the context of decarbonization. This is important for CliDemy – the Climate Academy, for which leaders, especially corporate leaders, comprise a critical segment.

Of special interest to me was to know how they “looked” at climate action – as a defensive strategy (I call it Renew), as a proactive effort (Redesign) or with a profoundly transformative vision (Reset).

I had reviewed interviews, videos and more from about 100 CEOs so far, leaders of some of the largest companies in the world, across sectors ranging from oil&gas, mining/metals, chemicals, automotive, agri&food…

Not surprisingly, 𝐧𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 100 𝐂𝐄𝐎𝐬’ 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐚 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 – I know, it is tough, and I had not expected much anyway! Going back to fundamentals and asking questions like “Should we be in this business at all?” is tough, very tough…

About 15 𝐂𝐄𝐎𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧 – examples of redesign include significantly altering operational processes or even bold changes to supply chain, steel companies trying change processes in order to use green hydrogen in place of natural gas and/or coke… These CEOs are fairly bold, yes, though some of them may be having boldness thrust upon them.

The largest number – 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 70% – 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐄𝐎𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 to “show” that they are doing something on decarbonization – purchasing renewable power, carbon credits & offsets, implementing energy efficiency in at least some portions of value chains, using ESG approaches and solutions to increase transparency…

This still leaves almost 20% of CEOs, who seem to be doing nothing, or worse, as in the case of some Big 10 oil companies, 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐛𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 some of their earlier decarbonization efforts.

All the above made me realize the following three aspects about the CEO perspectives on decarbonization:

1. A good many of them 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐭 – their companies strengths & assets built over decades, how their products had been benefitted their end users…for successful companies, a glorious past is just too appetizing to give up…

2. Many of them 𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤 – this was especially prominent among oil & gas companies, whose CEOs ask a rather blunt question – can you live without oil or natural gas today?

3. The few of them bold enough to consider dramatically different solutions or alternatives are 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 – for instance, there is the instance of a large airline CEO keen to shift massively towards sustainable aviation fuels but the supply chain for SAF is non-existent today. 

See my LinkedIn post on this topic.


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