Stuart Humphreys: My sustainability journey

I think my personal journey on
sustainability probably started almost a decade ago when I was the finance
director of National Grid’s UK businesses and had my first meeting or conversation
with Stuart Bailey who at the time was head of sustainability in the UK and I was
responsible for the investment management process for new capital
projects for our electricity and gas businesses in the UK and Stuart was
trying to convince me that we should be incorporating carbon reduction,
natural capital enhancing type considerations into that decision making
process. At the time I have to say with my background of narrow focus on cost
control and the bottom line I gave Stuart short shrift regrettably
didn’t think the natural capital really was a real thing, couldn’t really
understand how carbon should be a factor in decision making at all.
Fast forward to maybe four or five years ago when Stuart and I both got involved
in the A4S working group on Capital Expenditure decision making, and
what Stuart had said all along was being advocated by all these other or
member organizations of A4S, companies which look nothing like
National Grid – fast moving consumer goods companies. pharmaceutical companies,
supermarkets, retailers and they were all able, through real-life practical
examples, to demonstrate that, in their case, low water usage and low cost
and more profit, less packaging means low costs and more profit and in our
case low carbon means low cost and more profit, so the journey was completed
really from skeptic to hopefully somewhat evangelical proponent and a
supporter of the sustainability message and how that strongly linked with
positive shareholder outcomes.

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