‘Less carbon is less cost’: CEOs say their companies are making steady progress toward decarbonization

Former Vice President Al Gore attends a press conference for 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power' at Hotel Adlon on August 8, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Former Vice President Al Gore attends a press conference for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” at Hotel Adlon on Aug. 8, 2017, in Berlin.
Matthias Nareyek—Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Good morning.

Yesterday, the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum met virtually for a discussion of business efforts to reach net-zero goals. The three-hour discussion demonstrated the steady progress companies are making toward decarbonization, but also highlighted how far they still have to go. Some excerpts:

“We make our money today out of products that burn fossil fuels. And we are investing that money in the future because, if I just look at flight for instance, I can’t imagine my children and grandchildren are going to be prepared to get on and off of airplanes that are burning fossil fuels and damaging the environment in 20 years’ time. They just won’t do it. And that means, if I put a hard business lens on it, we don’t have a business.”
—Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce

We have to remember at the end of the day, less carbon is less cost.”
—Annette Clayton, CEO, Schneider Electric North America

“We always saw that the path to a more economically efficient, environmentally sound, and resilient grid was to create the grid of the future, which is about leveraging technology, leveraging innovation, and leveraging, as I say, these thousands of points of light in the system [using solar power plus storage].”
—Mary Powell, CEO, Sunrun

“We must address the issues of those 350 million people who are on the verge of famine [because of war and drought].”
—Ertharin Cousin, CEO, Food Systems for the Future

No other industry would accept that a third of what it produces gets trashed.”
—Geraldine Matchett, Co-CEO, Royal DSM, speaking of the food industry

“ESG has become this three-letter word that has become a political football, at least in the U.S. Really what we are talking about is risk managementmaking decisions today that have to play strong over 10 or 20 years. I think the language has to change, at least here on the U.S. side.”
—Marcie Frost, CEO, CalPERS

“Our thesis has been for a long time that we needed to work on sustainability goals because it’s the right thing to do, because we want to have a positive impact on the planet, but also because this can be the source of competitive advantage. More and more, both our consumers and our business customers care about it. Last year we did more than $3 billion because of sustainability. These are deals that we won because of our sustainability practices, our programs, our initiatives, and it is three times more than what we saw a year ago.”
—Enrique Lores, CEO, HP

“If you look at the IRS, what you see is the major way the U.S. is deploying policy is tax incentives. There are tax incentives for everyone. There are tax incentives for production, tax incentives for investment, nuclear tax incentives, residential property tax incentives, solar energy tax incentives, EV tax incentives.”
—Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor, Haas School of Business, UC–Berkeley

“It’s a very important piece of legislation. Two or three months ago, no one thought it would happen. It dramatically changes the incentives around investment. Our estimate is it will unlock a trillion dollars of investment in these technologies.”
—Rich Lesser, Global Chair, BCG

“We have to make it possible for developing countries to have access to capital at reasonable interest rates in order to finance this dramatic and miraculous sustainability revolution.”
—Al Gore, Chairman, Generation Investment Management

More news below. And check out this story about Elon Musk’s plan to put a robot in your home.

Alan Murray



Urging Musk

Elon Musk’s text messages—made public as part of the legal wranglings around his attempt to wriggle out of buying Twitter—showed who was egging him on to make the purchase. The list includes the likes of Jack Dorsey, Larry Ellison, Sam Bankman-Fried, and Joe Rogan, and you can read excerpts from the chats here. Fortune

Apple downgrade

Apple shares fell nearly 5% after Bank of America analysts downgraded its rating from buy to neutral, partly owing to relatively lackluster demand for the new iPhone 14. The drop reverberated across the Nasdaq: Alphabet down 2.6%, Meta down 3.7%, Amazon down 2.7%, and Tesla down a whopping 6.8%. CNBC

Vision Fund

SoftBank has axed 30% of staffers—about twice as many as was expected—at its extremely loss-making Vision Fund. The move follows a 23% drop in SoftBank’s share price over the past year. Apart from this latest cost-cutting measure, SoftBank hopes to bring in some cash from next year’s planned listing of chip-design behemoth Arm. Financial Times


‘The era is over for big rockstars’: How Beijing’s crackdown on Jack Ma forever changed the role of China’s CEOs, by Grady McGregor

The World Bank chief warns ‘perfect storm’ of stagflation and global recession: ‘A tough reality confronts the global economy,’ by Tristan Bove

I got rich by betting that inequality would destroy the U.S. and U.K. I’m sorry, by Gary Stevenson

The EU is crafting liability laws for A.I. products that cause injuries—here’s why the whole world better pay attention, by Jeremy Kahn

Remote work could be the reason you don’t have a job in 10 years, by Jane Thier

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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