The case for decarbonization is strong, says Chief Sustainability Officer, Esther Anas City Developments Limited wins the Net Zero Progression of the Year award at the 2022 Environmental Finance Sustainable Company Awards
environmental finance: What does decarbonisation mean for City Developments Limited (CDL)?
Esther To: We first adopted our corporate ethos of “Conserving as We Construct” in 1995 and have remained true to our commitment to greening our built environment. In February 2021, we became the first company in Southeast Asia to join the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment. At COP26, CDL joined the 44 pioneering companies to expand our promise to a lifetime net-zero carbon emissions approach.
In today’s global climate catastrophe, we have escalated our engagement by participating in the global Race to Zero, decarbonization through partnerships and collaborations with an ecosystem of stakeholders including investors, analysts, industry partners and the broader community.
EF: Why is it so important for CDL to take bold action?
EA: The planet faces serious climate threats and we believe climate risks are business risks. Businesses, investors and financiers, big and small, are all faced with the existential threat of climate change, along with increasing scrutiny from regulators and consumers. Climate risks are business risks. The cost of inaction will outweigh the cost of action. Integrating sustainability helps companies mitigate environmental and reputational risks.
Although CDL has made good strides over the past two decades, there is always room for more. We will continue to embrace change, transform our business and champion innovative solutions to future-proof our business and create value for our stakeholders. The race to net zero will remain the cornerstone of our sustainability strategy throughout this decade of action.
EF: What inspired you to take your leadership position on this topic?
EA: The built environment contributes around 39 percent to global energy-related CO2 emissions. The real estate sector has a significant impact on both economies and communities, and we can use this to drive the shift towards a more sustainable future. Our commitment and hands-on experience in green buildings and decarbonization has also enabled us to turn ambition into reality by supporting the global transition to net-zero buildings and a low-carbon future.
CDL was ranked 5th in the 2022 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World and is the first and only Singapore company to be included in the Global 100 for 13 consecutive years. This underscores our long-standing commitment to driving the sustainability agenda while delivering stable business growth.
EF: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced pursuing both sustainability and growth?
EA: Today, key players in the global financial ecosystem have raised their expectations for credible and consistent ESG disclosures. Companies are subject to stricter regulations, such as B. an increase in the CO2 tax and more robust climate reporting. How companies drive the transition to net-zero value over the coming years will have a major impact on capital allocation and, in turn, the company’s long-term growth and value. A common belief is that going green is costly and companies may struggle to find sufficient resources and expertise to embed sustainability into their operations.
To overcome these challenges, leaders need to take a long-term view and a forward-looking perspective to turn challenges into opportunities for growth. Catalyzing this shift will require a shift in mindset, leadership engagement, strategy and skills, making ESG a priority and competitive advantage. Companies that integrate sustainability and innovation to future-proof their business put themselves in a better position to achieve long-term growth.
EF: What advice would you give to other real estate conglomerates moving towards net zero?
EA: Businesses need to realize that they cannot make the transition to net zero alone. To do this, they must harness the power of public-private partnerships and set short-, medium- and long-term targets for reducing carbon emissions. Businesses need to build a larger ecosystem around them to gain stakeholder support to accelerate action and impact. Organizations need to stay ahead of changing stakeholder expectations and align with evolving policies, regulations and disclosure requirements that are increasingly being implemented both locally and globally.