Climate Week NYC wrapped up just a few days ago. The week-long event, held every September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was cited by The New Times last week as “a showcase of human innovation, the countless ways people in many industries are working to slow and potentially reverse the enormous harms humans have done to the planet.”
International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA)’s Founding Board Member Julien Gervreau was there and shared his top takeaways with us.
Strategies to Mainstream Sustainability into Corporate Strategy
It’s something IWCA has advocated for, and a message that came through clearly during Climate Week NYC: sustainability goals need to be integrated into overall corporate strategy.
As Julien explains, this concretely means:
there must be a process for incorporating sustainability objectives into the annual corporate planning and budgeting process
there must be formal mechanisms for holding people accountable to driving tangible progress against sustainability goals
it’s essential for a company to build sustainability initiatives into their cost of goods sold (COGS) and identify cost savings associated with these efforts
Another message highlighted at the events and meetings Julien attended: every organization needs a sustainability lead to drive this progress forward — and that lead needs to have a direct line of communication to the CEO, and preferably the Board. Furthermore, organizations should establish corporate sustainability / ESG governance committees. “By establishing formal governance and disclosure processes for your sustainability efforts, this embeds sustainability ownership throughout the organization,” Julien emphasizes.
Adopting Emissions Measurement and Mitigation Efforts
When it comes to climate action, Julien saw speakers at Climate Week NYC focusing on three overarching challenges that companies face: alignment, data, and adoption.
“Regarding alignment,” he says, “companies need executive leadership and mandates for action. The finance team has to be on board from the outset in helping them understand the material financial risks associated with climate exposure and inaction. It is critical that your CFO understands that climate risk is financial risk.”
He continues, “Poor data quality is also a huge problem. Organizations need better processes to capture physical — also known as usage — data to make accurate emissions calculations.”
When it comes to enacting sustainability reforms, companies often balk at putting their dollars into these initiatives. Julien explains that in addition to accounting for these costs in their COGS, companies should create an Internal Carbon Price so that they can begin setting aside real dollars in their strategy to prioritize ESG. “This can be communicated to internal leadership as a ‘slush fund’ for accelerating decarbonization efforts both internally and across your supply chain,” he notes. Exploring government funding to support technical assistance and implementation of climate action projects is also an area of opportunity.
A Trend Towards Mandatory Climate Disclosures
One trend rang clearly throughout Climate Week NYC: emissions accounting and disclosure is becoming the norm, increasingly mandatory for companies of all sizes across the globe as a result of regulation and stakeholder pressure. This is true even for smaller companies who are part of a larger company’s supply chain, as their emissions are accounted for under the larger company’s Scope 3 emissions.
“This is an area where IWCA has been ahead of the curve,” Julien reflects.
Since our founding in 2019, IWCA has guided wine producers to measure their GHG emissions and applied rigorous standards for measurement, verification, and disclosure. Adds Julien, “IWCA is the only climate initiative in the wine industry that adheres to global best practices for emissions accounting. IWCA has received growing signals from retailers, industry trade partners, and media that this is expected from the private sector, and that’s a trend that was only reinforced during Climate Week.”
The Wine Industry Can — and Is — Leading the Way
Julien’s insights from Climate Week NYC highlight the strong links between IWCA’s efforts and the current thinking regarding sustainability, GHG emissions reduction, and climate action. Where the global wine business is concerned, IWCA’s members are ahead when it comes to the mandatory climate disclosures and government legislation coming down the track. “I’m proud of how we’ve been able to prepare our member wineries,” concludes Julien. “Not only are we at the forefront of progress in the wine industry, but we’re at the forefront of a global shift in how climate action is becoming part of doing business.”
Our thanks to Julien Gervreau, IWCA Founding Board Member and Director of Sustainability & Climate Action at Sensiba LLP, for his insights!