Davos could do with a “DiCaprio ultimatum” on pay

January 20, 2016

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own.

Corporate greed causes climate change, Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant” star, scolded attendees at the World Economic Forum. He’s not entirely correct. For one, he pins the problem on oil and gas producers rather than the business world at large. But in one sense the actor is on to something: compensation could play a role in a larger climate solution.

Most companies at the annual confab in Davos, where DiCaprio made his table-thumping speech after receiving an award, got the message about going green long ago. The Paris Pledge for Action in December looped in over 400 companies all determined to measure and reduce their emissions. Some, like Unilever and General Electric, have long included sustainability among their fundamental business goals, and many companies factor these into pay calculations.

What happens if they fail? That’s where the whole thing falls a bit flat. There’s the embarrassment factor for company bosses, of course. Groups like the We Mean Business Coalition can watch and monitor, and potentially name and shame, to see if performance metrics are met. But chieftains still have much more to lose from delivering disappointing returns to shareholders than from missing renewable energy or carbon targets. Where sustainability feeds into bonuses, it is typically one of dozens of factors.

One answer may be found in the post-crisis financial industry: the bonus clawback. If a banker or trader is found to have fouled up years after the fact, remuneration for that year can be partly reversed. That hasn’t yet filtered through to environmental issues in any noticeable way.

Perhaps the best thing would be for company bosses to take action proactively. After all, in November, 79 CEOs used the World Economic Forum platform to call on governments to take climate change seriously. Those now in Davos could follow that up with a pledge to go carbon neutral by 2020, or forego a year’s bonus, or designate it to charity or one of the many funds raising money for investment in green technology.

Davos attendees regularly pontificate that social purpose and profit can mix. Shareholders may not agree enough to crack the whip. But climate change demands big gestures. Stealing the show back from Leonardo DiCaprio, whose latest performance garnered him an Oscar nomination, won’t be easy. But company bosses have important supporting roles to play.

14 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

What a joke. Calling Davos an “Economic Forum” is like all the other politically correct jargon the sheep seem to swallow, hook, line and sinker. CEO pay causes climate change? It makes me wonder just how insane the elites and their journalistic mouthpieces will get? By the way, the fact that the mind control apparatus decided to change the name of the biggest money making machine ever created from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” – and the world’s serfs dutifully obeyed – is all one really needs to know.

Posted by beofaction | Report as abusive

Maybe Leonardo should stick to making films instead of trying to play a scolding, fat old mother with a wooden stick. I don’t see him giving his millions away to make this a better world and also how did he get to Davos…..windpower???

Posted by MChase | Report as abusive

How funny. I didn’t know DiCaprio did comedy. Just curious how he got to Davos? I hope he didn’t fly in one of those carbon dioxide producing jets.

Posted by OregonDog | Report as abusive

I clicked on the story to see who the babe was next to Leo in the lede.
Damn!

Posted by HugoSLaVia | Report as abusive

I don’t get my news and politics from actors for the same reason I don’t get my entertainment from economists and industry experts.

Posted by Jonny_O | Report as abusive

Beofaction, I suggest you read this.

https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate -change-global-warming.htm

That is, assuming that you’re a regular person like me who truly has no skin in the game one way or the other, and assuming that you are interested in the truth. You can’t tell these days with all the Koch brother shills using the same tactics the tobacco industry used 50 years ago to deny that smoking causes lung cancer.

Posted by TimDaltonIsHere | Report as abusive

Why would anyone believe a Hollywood star when the live in a land of make believe? They don’t write or research the roles they play, the nothing but overpaid actors on the stage of mystic dreams. Only the media morons looking for fill space would dare put any of their asinine comments on the air. It appears the are a lot of moron in the media.

Posted by Fixento | Report as abusive

I would love to the see a tally of fossil fuels and resources consumed as a result of this conference. Couldn’t they try to have this over VTC? It seems to me that this is just a cover for the rich and famous to rub shoulders.

Posted by Bdy2010 | Report as abusive

MChase

Have you looked into DiCaprio’s charitable donations ($15 million just yesterday) and those of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation?

Posted by MEPace | Report as abusive

If you plot Global temperature delta from the 1951-1980 average versus Leo’s cumulative movie earnings from 1993 to 2015 there is a correlation factor of 70%. So, Leo must be a contributing factor to the climate change problem. Scientific proof!

I think we should all stop watching his movies. In fact, I already have. Most are just Oscar fodder with little entertainment value for me.

Sources: “http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/glo bal-temperature/” and “http://www.statisticbrain.com/leonardo- dicaprio-movie-career-statistics/”

Posted by 1996MEdition | Report as abusive

Leo is just a Mediocre Actor and Actors Thought(s) and Verbiage(s) are a Dime-a-Dozen and meaningless as all Actors live in another kind of Fantasy World of “Make-Believe” and most feel that because of their Actor “Status” that they are also Great Thinkers, which they are not in the slightest way! Cher is another one of them who is a great singer but her thought(s) and verbiage(s) are not noteworthy and are worth-less!

Posted by RCV1 | Report as abusive

Then he got in his private Lear jet and flew home to his 20,000 sf mansion

Posted by joey_bababalu | Report as abusive

Famous doesn’t equal smart. Leo is famous.

Posted by Marcus567 | Report as abusive

The likes of DiCaprio should stick to what they do best (acting)as with most professionals, they are not very good at much once they get out of their profession. Puppet on someone else s string about sums him up! I did like the movie though! 😉

Posted by Marpy | Report as abusive