Sustainability & Business

ESG trends from 2023 and how to stay ahead in 2024

Discover the biggest developments for sustainable business in 2023 and a look ahead to 2024, including new legislation and the importance of a proactive approach to climate action.

We rounded off the year with an insightful discussion between Christian Møller Holst - CEO and Founder of Goodwings and Sam Stark - CEO and Founder of Green Project Technologies. In the session, we discussed some of the biggest developments in 2023 and some the key things to look out for in 2024. Here's what we learned.

You can watch to full webinar on-demand here.

Biggest developments in 2023

New legislation hitting home with execs

2023 was the year that legislation became very real for businesses of all sizes. The CSRD was introduced in January 2023, meaning that large companies, as well as listed SMEs had to start preparing to report on sustainability. This has been on the cards for some time, and businesses have known about it, but this year it has become more apparent at the executive level, which has increased urgency and put the topic at the top of the agenda.

Offsetting uncertainty

Offsetting has had a tough year. In January, the Guardian published an exposé that took aim at Verra - an organization that sets the world’s leading standards for climate action and sustainable development. The ripples continued to spread throughout 2023, which created a high level of uncertainty around offsets as a meaningful way for businesses to combat climate change. The debate continues, but a lack of education has only added to the confusion. 

Sustainability knowledge-sharing 

Previously, most of the climate and sustainability knowledge was confined to specific roles like ESG or HR, but with increased legislation, a growing suite of climate options and climate solutions like offsets (see point 2!) being called into question, it’s never been more urgent to disseminate information across the organisation. This will help spread the risk with decision making, and improve awareness about which climate projects will provide the most value for the business, and protect from greenwashing claims.  

Converging reporting standards 

One of the pushbacks that can be heard from businesses is that, when it comes to reporting, they’re faced with an “alphabet soup” of reporting standards. It’s a fair point. But in 2023, we saw a convergence of reporting standards and legislation. This is a positive step because it means a higher rate of standardisation and alignment, which leads to greater progress for the climate agenda. 

Supply chain trickle down effect 

Emissions calculations and reporting have, until now, been a problem for larger businesses. That changed in 2023. This shift has been led in part by large companies like Amazon  that are demanding more detailed emissions information from their supply chain providers. This has made it clear that no business works in a silo. What big businesses like Amazon understand is that, in order to decarbonize, they need to start with their own supply chain. 


Watch the full webinar on-demand

Join us in a conversation about the key takeaways and regulatory shifts from 2023, and get a glimpse into the upcoming climate compliance trends that will shape 2024.

Watch webinar on-demand


Advice for 2024

Remember you’re part of someone else’s Scope 3

One of the biggest learnings you can take away as a smaller business is that you're part of someone else’s Scope 3 - their commitments are now your commitments. One thing to do is to get in touch with your clients to see what they need to see and when, so you’re ready for when the time comes, and there are no nasty surprises. What we’re seeing is that a lot of large companies are ready for what's coming, but when you go one level down, they’re still a bit unprepared.

Be proactive, not reactive!

If we can learn anything from 2023, it is that legislation is real, and it’s here! Waiting for it to hit your business is not a sustainable strategy, so it’s time to be proactive because you’ll need 12 months of data to get started. Setting up robust carbon accounting mechanisms with tools like Green Project Technologies and starting to monitor your Scope 3 travel emissions with Goodwings is a good place to start. 

Data alone won’t solve the climate crisis

With growing reporting standards and requirements, it’s easy to get caught up in data collection (which is, of course, important), but it’s also vital to remember that decarbonization is the end goal. So, yes it’s important to take that first step so you can establish a baseline and meet the requirements, but we should (and can) be more ambitious than that. 

Don’t let COP28 make you think that governments will do the work

COP28 was presented as a global breakthrough, which is a dangerous narrative when there is still so much work to be done. Yes, every step should be seen as progress, but it should not fuel corporate complacency, especially with large businesses who have the biggest opportunity to drive change and meaningful impact with their climate change agenda. 



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