“Accounting for Climate Change” Wins 63rd Annual HBR McKinsey Award

Top article proposes new system companies can use to account for and improve greenhouse gas emissions

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–An article outlining a new approach to measuring and reporting companies’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has won the 2021 HBR McKinsey Award, which honors the best Harvard Business Review article of the year.

In “Accounting for Climate Change,” Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Kaplan and University of Oxford Blavatnik School of Government professor Karthik Ramanna argue that the methodology most companies use to estimate their GHG emissions for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is inaccurate and unreliable. They propose tackling the measurement and reporting of GHG emissions in a more integrated, comprehensive, and auditable way through the E-liability accounting system. The system integrates advances in chemistry and engineering with financial and cost accounting principles to assign a company’s direct and supply-chain emissions to its outputs of products and services.

“‘Accounting for Climate Change’ could not be more timely given the urgency of the climate crisis and the imperative for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief of Harvard Business Review. “The judges praised the article’s rigorous and practical approach to improving ESG reporting.”

Robert S. Kaplan is a senior fellow and the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School. Karthik Ramanna is professor of business and public policy at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government.

Read more about the article and the research behind it at McKinsey Blog. Additionally, Kaplan and Ramanna published a follow-up article, “We Need Better Carbon Accounting. Here’s How to Get There,” on HBR.org today.

The annual HBR McKinsey Awards, judged by an independent panel of business and academic leaders with input from members of HBR’s Advisory Board, commend outstanding articles published each year in Harvard Business Review. This year’s announcement appears in the May-June issue of the magazine.

This year’s HBR McKinsey Awards also recognizes three finalists:

The Circular Business Model” by Atalay Atasu, Céline Dumas, and Luk N. Van Wassenhove

Unconscious Bias Training That Works” by Francesca Gino and Katherine Coffman

Net Promoter 3.0” by Fred Reichheld, Darci Darnell, and Maureen Burns

The 2021 HBR McKinsey judges were: Kathleen Eisenhardt, Professor, Stanford School of Engineering; Trevor Fetter, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School; Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Former Partner, Egon Zehnder; Sunil Gupta, Professor, Harvard Business School; Samantha Hammock, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Verizon; Linda Hill, Professor, Harvard Business School; and Herminia Ibarra, Professor, London Business School

About the HBR McKinsey Awards

Since 1959, the HBR McKinsey Awards have recognized practical and groundbreaking management thinking by determining the best articles published each year in Harvard Business Review. Past winners include Clayton M. Christensen, Peter Drucker, Daniel Goleman, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, John Kotter, Mark R. Kramer, Michael E. Porter, and George Stalk.

About Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review is the leading destination for smart management thinking. Through its flagship magazine, 10 international licensed editions, books from Harvard Business Review Press, and digital content and tools published on HBR.org, Harvard Business Review provides professionals around the world with rigorous insights and best practices to lead themselves and their organizations more effectively and to make a positive impact.


Amy Poftak

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