Corporate leaders need guidance and accountability on implementing ESG standards

Fortune's Impact Report newsletter spotlights where stakeholder capitalism is taking hold.
Stefan Wermuth—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Good morning,

When I started this newsletter under its former moniker, The Loop, in 2019, the Business Roundtable had only recently redefined what the group considered the purpose of a corporation, expanding the remit of corporate leaders beyond passing profit to shareholders to enriching the lives of all of a business’s “stakeholders.”

The statement represented a monumental shift in the mentality of corporate leadership and ushered in—at least on paper—the current climate of “stakeholder capitalism,” which Fortune has championed rigorously in intervening years.

Despite the sea change, there are certainly plenty of examples since 2019 where businesses have failed to live up to the ideals of stakeholder capitalism. 

Last year, oil giants shared the windfall profits of a war-time price spike with investors, issuing multi-billion-dollar dividends to shareholders, while consumers suffered surging energy costs and struggled to pay bills.

Last week, Google became the latest tech giant to suddenly sever thousands of employees from their livelihoods, eliminating 12,000 staff with little notice and leaving former and current “Googlers” with little indication of how executives chose who to cull.

Pilots of stakeholder capitalism often go adrift. To keep corporate leaders on course, Fortune has launched a new newsletter, Impact Report, and a new membership program, Impact Initiative, dedicated to promoting stakeholder capitalism, bringing on Peter Vanham, the former head of communications for the chairman of the World Economic Forum, to head up both.

“The idea that business has a role to play in improving society that goes beyond serving shareholders is the underlying belief driving content in Impact Report,” Peter, who co-wrote the book on stakeholder capitalism, told me.

This will be the last issue of Green, Inc. as the newsroom focuses on building a newsletter and community around the impact businesses have in the world. We encourage you to sign up for Impact Report. And if you’re interested in joining the Impact Initiative community of executives, you can check that out here, too.

The weekly newsletter, Peter says, highlights ways companies are implementing the tenets of stakeholder capitalism, and provides readers with templates and insights on what building stakeholder capitalism means in practice—spotlighting winning ESG strategies from leading corporations.

Thanks for reading. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to report on the most pressing issue facing humanity today, and if you sign up for Impact Report you’ll see my byline once more when I take over while Peter’s on leave later this year.  

Eamon Barrett
eamon.barrett@fortune.com
@eamonbarrett88

CARBON COPY

Canada’s costly carbon capture conflict

The Pathways Alliance, a group of six Canadian tar sands companies with a commitment of net zero emissions by 2050, say friction between federal and local government is preventing the group from progressing on a $12.3 billion carbon capture project in Alberta. The Pathways Alliance wants government funds to finance 66% of the project’s building costs, but the central and provincial governments are at loggerheads over which authority should provide the lion’s share of funding. The carbon capture hub is supposed to be operational by 2030. Reuters

No more diesel for EU?

The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg are urging the European Union’s governing body, the European Commission, to target zero carbon emissions from heavy duty vehicles by 2035, to match the EU’s goal of banning petrol-powered passenger vehicles by the same year. Heavy duty vehicles, including buses and trucks, are more polluting than cars but are also harder to electrify, due to their size and weight. Bloomberg

Oil majors release the rigs

Rising energy demand, spiked by the war in Ukraine, has incentivized oil companies to reinstate dormant deep sea rigs, sending the buoyant drills out to drill deep in the sea bed, in search of more oil to meet demand. The Deepwater Titan—a roving drilling rigs that takes the form of a large ship rather than a static platform—had sat idle in a Singaporean shipyard for five years. But Chevron is now charging the $1.2 billion vessel to drill for oil off the coast of Mexico. WSJ

Something worth chewing on 

Bill Gates has led a $12 million investment round in Australian startup Rumin8, that is looking to feed cows supplements made from seaweed and other “anti-methanogenic” food stock, to reduce the volume of methane gas cows belch into the atmosphere. Previous research has shown adding seaweed to cow feed can reduce methane production 80%. However, belching methane is only one of the environmental consequences of industrial cattle rearing—excessive land use and increased deforestation are issues associated with cow farms that feeding them seaweed won’t solve. Guardian

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Leaders at Davos can fix our fragmented world by answering a simple question: How wealthy does one person need to be? A capitalist is asking by Stephen Prince

In 2011, we made the Nest thermostat. Now we’re coming for your banana peels to help save the planet by Harry Tannenbaum and Matt Rogers

WEF: ‘We have everything we need to speed up the energy transition. It’s time to tackle humanity’s greatest challenge’ by Jeremy Jurgens

Bill Gates’ latest investment is in a startup trying to cut down on cow burps to save the climate by Tristan Bove

Mild weather has saved Europe this winter. Here’s what we must do to avoid future energy crises by Ignacio Galán

CLOSING NUMBER

30%

Future utility grids will need to incorporate masses of battery storage in order to counteract the intermittent power supply generated by wind and solar energy, posing a costly dilemma for grid operators. Thankfully, a growing consumer trend might provide the solution: electric vehicles. According to new research published in Nature Communications, utilities could meet their projected storage needs in 2030 if just 30% of EV owners opt-in for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging—allowing grid operators to draw on power stored in the car’s battery to charge the grid during peak hours.

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