ESG is imperative for our futures. While ESG guidelines and standards are still emerging, future-minded companies are building their ESG infrastructure – which starts with people. Real change comes from within and goes beyond glossy ESG headlines to become actionable ethos and policies. Exemplary environmental-social-and-governance-minded leadership coupled with the best sustainable outcomes is the only actionable way towards a resilient energy future. To empower the next generation of energy leaders, Project Canary partnered with the University of Oklahoma’s Ronnie K. Irani Center for Energy Solutions in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy to develop and sponsor the Energy ESG Leadership Certificate Program. The two-week program gives industry professionals practical, actionable knowledge necessary to reinvigorate the industry’s future.
Cohort #1 took place in April and included 17 students from across the energy industry. Representatives from Anschutz, Caerus, Chesapeake, DCP Midstream, IHS Global, Laredo, Project Canary, and Seneca attended. Additionally, graduate school students joined the program (including international students from Nigeria, Mexico, and India).
These diverse experiences allowed the class to learn and discuss the specific energy ESG spectrum. A lively dialogue provided vital market insights into how companies (and countries) assess their ESG profiles. The course covered everything from leadership to regulation, but a few key points stood out for us:
There is a growing need for standardization surrounding ESG
The growing need for some form of ESG standardization was a pivotal point among participants. How can you drive the “right approach” to reporting in the face of varied standards? And how can the market use ESG to differentiate without this consensus? The market will likely be asking these questions for years to come, but as a group, we were able to share our varied interpretations of ESG.
While standards develop, companies in a leadership position are moving ahead. The participants came from companies that are using certifications and emissions monitoring technologies to differentiate themselves from peers, and it’s clear that operators have begun to view monitoring technology as the new norm.
The Project Canary team was inspired to see tech and measurement-driven approaches to ESG reporting becoming normalized. You measure what matters, and actual emissions reporting (rather than estimates) is critical for driving actionable ESG performance and impact.
ESG means continuous improvement–collaboration can help us raise the bar
ESG isn’t an endpoint. Instead, we should look at it as an evergreen opportunity where we all strive for growth. While seasoned industry veterans and those who are just setting off on their ESG journey had differing points of view, we all had plenty to learn from each other. That’s where collaboration and conversation became important. Open dialogue is critical to progress. Driving a standardized approach to ESG reporting that is both measurable and actionable means putting our minds together and devoting significant time to sharing what works and what doesn’t while also thinking through what we could all be doing better. ESG isn’t a series of boxes you check, instead, it’s a journey to drive continuous improvements that impact our families, communities, and in large part, of climate futures.
Data and measurement are the future of ESG
The class agreed that more data and measurement are needed for ESG to have material impacts. We have entered into what Project Canary has coined as the “measurement economy,” where estimates are no longer sufficient. Investors and financial markets are gobbling up more and more data to differentiate environmental performance across public and private operators. Individuals depend on responsibility-data to make purchasing decisions. Employees are taking an active role in ESG conversations (and leaving companies that won’t listen). ESG is having a tangible impact on the way we run our businesses–it’s critical that the data we’re using is both accurate and actionable.
We have the technology needed to drive significant changes in the accuracy and fidelity of the “E” in ESG energy reporting go-forward, but it’s up to all of us to push these ideas forward.