Doha, June 2020
Corporate Social Responsibility in the Energy Sector
As the concept and range of CSR continuously expand, new trends emerge to meet such concerns. These trends are reflected in the energy sector through attention to green energy investment and reduced contribution to climate change; community engagement on major new projects; bridging the talent gap to produce highly skilled new employment; and working with governments to introduce social responsibility policy reforms. Nevertheless, there are several challenges for CSR programmes in the energy sector which, in turn, are likely to be exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated recession.
In the Al-Attiyah Foundation’s July Sustainability Issue entitled ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in the Energy Sector’’ the non-profit think tank explored in detail why CSR is beneficial for all shareholders and how the concept has progressed from its nascent ideals to its now pronounced altruistic aspirations.
CSR has a long history and has become more sophisticated and demanding over time. From a voluntary corporate action espoused by farsighted managers and institutions, it has increasingly been demanded by shareholders, governments, and society. Concerns surrounding CSR presently reflect wider social trends and issues of the present day that are causing apprehension and concern as well as a desire for resolution or action.
Companies’ CSR adoption has both come from within and without, motivated by internal and external drivers, with both economic and political factors being the most dominant catalysts. The main drivers for the adoption of CSR are cost savings and profitability, along with the avoidance of legal, financial, and environmental liabilities and the ramifications posed by such liabilities.
The oil and gas industry, despite its suspect image in the public sphere, has been among the champions of CSR practices, because of its international operations, the various impacts it has on the environment, and the consequent and consistent scrutiny from environmental and social non- governmental organisations.
CSR is witnessing emerging trends that are focused on greenhouse gas footprints, improved energy efficiency, renewable energy investment, and increased financial disclosure and anti-corruption measures; some actions are to the progressive envy of nation-states.
Many oil and gas producing countries are experiencing ever growing demand for social and economic development, continually putting pressure on international oil companies to increase their CSR programmes. Equally, local communities sometimes have unrealistic demands, so finding a pragmatic balance that caters for company stability and security is an increasing core concern for companies.
The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to put more pressure on the energy sector’s CSR programmes, especially as its profitability falls, local unemployment surges and workforce mobility diminishes. This paper deals with the implications of new transformational changes and how companies have to make robust economic decisions.
The full report can be downloaded HERE along with other research and reports in energy and sustainable development.