The rising importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles of investment is the hot topic under the spotlight at the third annual Press and Journal Virtual Business Breakfast of 2021.
Joining our expert panel at the event, entitled ESG and the Climate-Positive City, is Bob Ruddiman, head of energy at Burness Paull, where he is responsible for leading and growing the law firm’s combined renewables and oil and gas practices.
According to Mr Ruddiman, ESG is not going away any time soon.
“It is not optional,” he said.
“Whether you look at the court of public opinion or you look at the more objective stakeholder investor perspective, businesses need to embrace it and ask themselves: What are the opportunities this throws up?
“Right now in the north-east of Scotland we have a chance, if we are willing to embrace the changes, to be a global energy centre.
“The years of working in a marine environment, the interface between the ocean and the land. Pipes, terminals, wells, cables, offshore structures and general operations and logistics – these are all part of the future energy landscape. We either embrace that and work out the best practice from what we currently know, or the future looks challenging.”
However, change is difficult and the global consensus required to meet the challenge is far from achieved.
He said: “We are, as a society, addicted to energy. There aren’t many people stepping forward saying they are willing to make significant sacrifices to step away from that addiction.
“We have to work out where the compromises are. That is the challenge. It is encapsulated in what is called the ‘just transition’ – but how you implement that is difficult.”
Likewise, the cost of delivering net-zero on a global basis is still uncountable, with collaboration between the public and private sector needing to reach new levels beyond even what the pandemic has achieved.
Mr Ruddiman said: “The financial capital for the changes we are going to have to make is eyewatering.
“We aren’t going to get there without significant public and private funding. Governments will require to work really hard at what their enablement methods are – both bringing in additional finance and to encourage corporates, cities, states, to give incentives.”
“It is not going to be easy,” added Mr Ruddiman. “We are going to have to take some deep intakes of breath and leaps of confidence.
“That doesn’t mean doing anything reckless. But it does mean being willing to be able to push away from the quay and see what it is like in the ocean.
“We have to make sure we have some oars and provisions – but we are going to have to go for it.”
The P&J Business Breakfast takes place on Thursday July 1 and will be chaired by Press and Journal business editor, Erikka Askeland.
The breakfast event runs from 8-9am. To register for free, visit www.pandjbreakfast.co.uk