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Letter: Boards must act on carbon emissions disclosure now

The formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board and the publication of their new proposals (Report, April 1) is a welcome step in a landscape of well-intentioned but increasingly uncoordinated, complex and nationalised taxonomies. As the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report once again reiterates, the time is indeed “now or never” for action, and the financial market is both the electricity and the circuit to facilitate this action. However, there are three flaws with the ISSB that require attention.

Being made by and for investors the ISSB has a cognitive bias. Considering climate change’s impact on the company, rather than a company’s impact on the climate and society at large, leaves business leaders with information and metrics that are a self-enforcing cycle of introspection. These will not be a true reflection of sustainability performance and impact as the general public sees it.

The ISSB is also too focused on risk and reporting and omits resilience, but resilience is important to both physical climate adaptation and business continuity. A company’s resilience — the capacity to absorb, recover, strengthen and adapt in the face of shocks and trends — is a prerequisite for sustainable change.

Finally, while the ISSB is moving at pace, it will take time to implement if boardrooms only do the minimum for climate-related financial disclosures this year. Comprehensive “now or never” decisions are needed — these will not only reap future compliance rewards, but choosing the sustainable options I believe will bring financial gain.

Andrew Mather
Ramboll Group, London SE1, UK

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