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Article summary:

1. The lack of standardized accounting for corporate ESG performance is a major issue for companies, investors, and consumers.

2. The IFRS Foundation has proposed the creation of a parallel Sustainability Standards Board (SSB) to provide clarity on sustainability performance reporting.

3. The adoption of the SSB would enable executives to factor sustainability issues into strategy and capital-allocation decisions, make boards focus on sustainability as a major issue, and make companies more attractive to investors.

Article analysis:

The article "The Future of ESG Is … Accounting?" discusses the lack of standardized accounting for corporate ESG performance and proposes a solution in the form of the IFRS Foundation's proposal to create a parallel Sustainability Standards Board (SSB). The author argues that this would enable investors and other stakeholders to have a clearer view of any company's sustainability performance, just as they do its financial performance.

While the proposal has support from some major heavyweights in the investment and corporate communities, including Anne Simpson and Paul Polman, the article fails to explore potential counterarguments or risks associated with creating an SSB. For example, it does not address concerns about whether such standards could be too prescriptive or inflexible, potentially stifling innovation or hindering companies' ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Additionally, while the article acknowledges that not all sustainability issues are relevant to investors, it does not delve into how the SSB would determine which issues fall within its remit. This raises questions about whether there could be conflicts between different organizations working on sustainability reporting standards, such as SASB and GRI.

Furthermore, while the article suggests that rigorous standards for measuring and reporting on sustainability will make it possible for compensation to be tied to sustainability metrics, it does not provide evidence for this claim or explore potential drawbacks of doing so. For example, tying compensation solely to sustainability metrics could incentivize companies to prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability goals.

Overall, while the article presents a compelling case for why standardized accounting for ESG performance is needed and how an SSB could help achieve this goal, it falls short in exploring potential counterarguments and risks associated with creating such standards. Additionally, some claims made in the article are unsupported by evidence or require further exploration.