Accountants against climate change

Gregor Alexander, SSE's Finance Director, meets HRH The Prince of Wales at the Accounting for Sustainability Summit 2017

When we think of the leading lights in the effort to combat climate change, few would put accountants and bankers at the top of the list. But, I’m pleased to say, all that is changing.

Last week I took part in a major accounting summit focussed on the work accountants, investors and businesses must do to properly manage future risks of climate change. The event was inspired, in part, by a hugely influential report that came out in the summer from a task force led by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England. This Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD for short, report makes a series of recommendations to encourage businesses to disclose the impact of climate change on their future risks and opportunities.

The reason the TCFD makes these recommendations is because there is a growing understanding that a disorderly transition to a low carbon world could impact significantly on future economic prosperity. Both central banks and long-term investors want to ensure that there is transparency within markets so that capital decisions can be taken with data and disclosures that help spell out the long-term risks and opportunities of any given investment.

I signed SSE up to fulfil each one of those recommendations within the next three years. I did that for what I believe to be an obvious reason.

SSE is – above all – a long-term company. We have energy assets over 40 years old and we are building new assets that will last another 40. Our shareholders – and our wider stakeholders – demand to understand how we are managing the risks of climate change. And the opportunities that arise from climate change – the transition to a lower carbon energy mix – represent the most exciting growth opportunities for SSE in the future.

So of course I want to ensure that SSE remains at the forefront of efforts in the UK and Ireland to tackle climate change. It’s good for our business, it’s good for our shareholders and in the long-run it’s good for every single one of us.

About the author

Gregor Alexander Finance Director

Gregor was appointed Finance Director in 2002, having previously been Group Treasurer and Tax Manager. He has worked in the energy industry since 1990, when he joined Scottish Hydro Electric. He has Board-level responsibility for Procurement and Logistics, Risk and Assurance, Investor Relations, Corporate Business Services, Finance and IT. He is Chairman of SGN, in which SSE has a 33.3% stake, and is a non-Executive Director of Stagecoach Group plc.

Read more articles by Gregor Alexander