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Sky TG24 Live In Firenze: Francesco Starace’s speech

The energy transition, decarbonization, green bonds, transparency: Enel’s steps towards the near future

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The great challenges for green energy: on June 26, on the occasion of the “Sky TG24 Live In Firenze” event, Enel’s CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace spoke about the Group’s commitment to the energy transition and decarbonization, focusing in particular on the tools available to large companies to cope with these epochal changes. It was therefore inevitable to think of Sustainable Finance: “It all started with the word risk, and its connection to the costs of finance. Why should a green bond have a higher interest rate? What is the point of that? Your risk profile should decrease if you decarbonize your business.”

Starace recalled that, several years ago, “We explored the market in the United States and asked: Do you agree that our risk profile decreases if we reach a certain renewable capacity by 2021? The answer was yes. So, is it logical to pay a lower interest rate? The answer was yes. If we don’t manage to do so by 2021, the rate will increase.” And this is how the world’s first bond linked to sustainable objectives came into existence. It was subsequently issued in Europe as well: “In this way we linked several financial instruments to the achievement of sustainable objectives.” 

“There is no global agreement on the cost of carbon emissions, and this is the part that’s missing. If no agreement is reached on the cost of CO2, the front in the battle against climate change will be broken”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

During the event, which was also attended by Stefano Pogutz, Professor at Milan’s Bocconi University and an expert in sustainability, Starace pointed out the importance of governance for change and the need for rules, metrics, and transparency: “Companies need to show transparently what they are doing for decarbonization. If this happens, the commitments become credible. Without measurable commitments, it is difficult for anyone to accept your leadership.” With regard to governance, Starace added that there is “less attention, but it is the most important factor.” Transparency is essential: “It’s not easy for many companies. It was a painful transition for us, but once we did it, we understood that it was the right choice.”

Furthermore, in order to continue along the path of decarbonization, Starace believes that it’s necessary to reach “a global agreement on the cost of carbon, in order to establish for companies and governments what the cost of adding CO2 to the atmosphere is.” This is currently missing: “If an agreement is not reached, divergences in economic areas and tariffs will begin to emerge, and the front in the battle against climate change will be broken.”

As Starace explained during the event, today companies have “an important responsibility: to understand that what they say is taken almost as an absolute truth.” They need to say what they can do today, but with an eye on the next 20-30 years: “You hear things that mix what technology can offer today and what is still future science. Companies have a responsibility to make people understand the difference between the two.” There is also what Starace described as “an active role: deciding which side to take and not turning back. We have to decarbonize first in order to lead by example.”

 

Enel editorial staff