Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Tapping financing options to accelerate adoption of renewable energy


Climate change is an undeniable threat. The evidence is all around us, with the last three years bringing a record number of natural disasters to the United States. Mitigating the future effects of climate change will necessitate large-scale efforts to build a more sustainable society.

Corporations must act now to mitigate risk and comply with potential new regulations, as well as to ensure their own long-term success. Today's mission-driven businesses recognize that what is good for society is also good for business.

What these companies may not realize is that their finance teams have a unique opportunity to help mitigate the risks of climate change. Finance teams can have a significant impact by providing advice on making smart investments that also drive the organisation's sustainability strategy.

At Eaton, we're looking into new ways that financial strategies can help us achieve our mission of improving people's lives and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. This includes investigating how we finance our business, how we run our operations, and how we assist our customers in financing their own operations.

“We’re exploring new ways that financial strategies can help us meet our sustainability goals – in how we finance our company, how we run our operations, and how we help our customers finance power management solutions – and ultimately deliver on our mission to protect the environment and improve lives” said Kirsten Park, Senior Vice President, Treasury.

Investors in both equity and fixed income are more concerned with sustainability than ever before. They are evaluating companies based on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance because they recognize the importance of these metrics. Investors are also seeing how financing options can drive change and uncover new opportunities for companies to meet ESG goals while also developing new revenue streams. Debt instruments, in particular, have grown to include green financing options.

A sustainability-linked bond is one example of debt capital that is linked to the issuer's sustainability performance. With this type of debt, the amount of interest paid is directly related to how well the company performs against its chosen sustainability metrics. Meeting measurable targets, such as reducing scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are aligned with the company's sustainability strategy, is an important component. Other metrics for sustainability-linked bonds include scope 3 GHG emissions, biodiversity protection, waste reduction, gender diversity, and other factors.

We recently issued our first $1.3 billion sustainability-linked bond at Eaton. The notes are linked to our goal of reducing scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions and represent an exciting step forward in our commitment to science-backed climate change mitigation targets. When the bond was announced, our Chief Sustainability Officer Harold Jones stated, “Achieving our sustainability goals is as critical to our business as meeting our financial commitments, and this financing aligns both strategies.”

Funding sustainable operations
Another way finance can help an organization achieve its sustainability goals is by collaborating with procurement and other departments to invest in energy efficiency projects and source renewable energy to power operations and reduce carbon emissions.

Eaton has developed a carbon roadmap that includes six levers to help us achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. We are prioritizing the use of renewable energy wherever possible as part of this. We purchase renewable energy when it is available and have installed solar projects at many of our locations to generate our own renewable energy.

There are still places where onsite or physically purchased renewable energy is not available. This is where Virtual Purchase Power Agreements (VPPAs) can help ensure that renewable energy continues to accelerate.

VPPAs enable businesses to increase the scale of their renewable energy sources by investing in utility-scale renewable energy generation while also accelerating energy optimization and efficiency in their operations. VPPAs are frequently a better solution than "buying your way" to lower carbon emissions through other means. They allow organizations to connect renewable energy to the grid that would not have been possible otherwise, which is a critical step towards accelerating the world's transition to renewable energy.

Aside from running their own operations sustainably, businesses can accelerate change by influencing customer behavior - and finance can help here as well. Customers are increasingly looking to invest in technology that will help them reduce energy costs and ensure business continuity in an era of rising energy prices. Energy storage, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure can all help achieve these objectives, but at a high upfront cost.

Tailored finance solutions can assist customers in investing in their own long-term solutions while preserving cash flow. Eaton recently launched a finance solution with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions that includes infrastructure and equipment as well as access to Eaton's global service network. Businesses will be able to reap additional cost savings while beginning the important work of reducing their carbon footprint.

Finance a catalysts for change
Measurement and transparency are critical to achieving our sustainability goals. And this is another area where finance plays an important role. Just as public companies must report transparently on their financial performance, they must also report transparently on their sustainability progress.

Finance teams, with their measurement expertise and emphasis on accountability, are natural partners. Finance can provide new tools in the form of financing strategies to achieve sustainability goals while also providing oversight and accountability leadership.

We report our progress through our Sustainability Dashboard and collaborate with reputable ESG rating agencies such as Sustainalytics, MSCI, ISS, and others to transparently share our key metrics. Furthermore, we pioneered the development of a separate TCFD report to publish our performance against objective third-party metrics established by The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. (TCFD). And our finance function has direct oversight of key sustainability initiatives, such as the $3 billion we are investing in R&D to support the development of sustainable product solutions.

To meet the challenge of climate change, we must all row in the same direction. And finance teams are assisting in the organization's direction. Companies can accelerate the execution of their sustainability strategies and effectively report on their progress by establishing powerful cross-functional collaborations with their finance teams. Investors can be confident that a company's promises are backed up by actual action. And society as a whole can work towards a more sustainable future.