7:03:00 PM PDT - Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

Share your carbon-adjusted earnings per share number, you cowards  

By Editor - Thu Sep 22, 9:20 am

If my PR inbox is anything to go by (trust me, it is), companies, and especially stock-market listed megacorps, are scrambling to out-green each other with tales of how the planet will be taking breaths of relief because of what glorious stewardship they provide for our slowly heating planet. E nvironmental, social and governance (ESG) goals are reported with great glee, but few companies tie it directly to earnings. There’s an old truism in journalism that people can’t understand distances longer than a football field, and can’t understand numbers larger than their mortgage. PR professionals know this, and  time and time again, the public is agog with the numbers. “Wow, company X put $10 million toward climate change!” means that we, collectively, get all warm and fuzzy about Company X. Few of us pause to think how Company X had that $10 million to spend, and when it turns out that it is only a fraction of the marketing budget, it often becomes clear that the “green initiatives” are marketing spend, not planet-improvement spend.  To people who believe we are on a timeline where we are careening toward a late-stage post-apocalyptic capitalist hellscape where humans are cogs and the planet is there to be strip-mined, the only meaningful climate measurement is one where it is balanced against the only real metric corporations care about: profits. And specifically, profits as an intermediate metric for a company’s share price.  A couple of years ago, Danone started reporting its carbon-adjusted earnings per share (CAEPS, very catchy), directly tying its carbon emissions to its earnings with a simple-to-understand formula: Calculate the “cost” of your greenhouse gas emissions, divide it by the number of shares and subtract that from your earnings.

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Share your carbon-adjusted earnings per share number, you cowards

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