1st Edition

Climate Change and the Governance of Corporations Lessons from the Retail Sector

By Rory Sullivan, Andy Gouldson Copyright 2021
    168 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Climate change represents the most important environmental challenge of our time. Organisations are responding by implementing governance processes and taking action to reduce their own emissions and the emissions from their supply chains and value chains. Yet very little is known about how these efforts contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (if, indeed, they make any substantive contribution at all) or about how they might be harnessed to deliver more ambitious reductions in emissions.

    This book explains when and where particular forms of governance intervention – including internal governance processes and external governance pressures – are likely to impact climate change. From this analysis, it offers practical proposals on the climate policy frameworks that need to be in place to facilitate or accelerate changes in corporate behaviour.

    The book is truly global: it focuses on the world’s 25 largest retailers (including Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour, Sears and Aldi) and is based on detailed interviews with senior managers from these corporations, and with key global and national NGOs, corporate responsibility experts, politicians and regulators. These interviews provide clear insights into how external governance pressures and actions (public opinion, regulation, incentives) interact with internal governance conditions (management systems and processes, corporate policies, board/CEO leadership) to change and shape corporate actions on climate change and, in turn, the climate change impacts of these corporations.

    This book can be used as a core reference for any courses dealing with corporate governance and business strategy, in particular those relating to climate change and to environmental management more generally. It is also of relevance to business practitioners, public policy makers, investors and NGOs interested in ensuring that companies play a constructive role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

    1. Introduction

    2. Understanding the Governance Relationship Between the State and Corporations

    3. Understanding the Relationship and Interactions between Internal and External Governance Processes

    4. Governance and Corporate Action on Climate Change: The UK Supermarket Sector

    5. Governance and Corporate Action on Climate Change: International Experiences

    6. Designing and Deploying Effective Internal and External Governance Processes

    7. The Implications for Climate Change


    Rory Sullivan is CEO of Chronos Sustainability, Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and General Editor of the Routledge Responsible Investment series. He is an internationally recognised expert on climate change, human rights and investment, with over 30 years’ experience in the public and private sectors on these issues.

    Andy Gouldson is Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds and an adjunct professor in the Department for Architecture and Planning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). His previous roles include Director of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, and most recently as Dean for Inter-Disciplinary Research at the University of Leeds.

    "Private companies have a critical role to play in supporting and enabling the transition to a zero- carbon economy. Corporate action is shaped by the interplay of external pressures and internal governance systems, processes, cultures and values. This book makes an important contribution to understanding these dynamics and helping companies accelerate the zero carbon transition". - Professor Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Head of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.