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Ed. note: This is part 2 of a series of articles on our experiences using AI platform chatGPT to write and answer questions about ESG. The first installment focused on seeing if the AI app would copy my writing style in producing a blog article.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have chatGPT write your company’s ESG report in the time it takes to go get a cup of coffee? Perhaps. I tried and found there are issues with doing so.

First, there is apparently a 2,000 word limit on its output. You might be able to get around that to some extent by telling it to write one section at a time, or by entering the command “continue” after each part it produces. But as I noted previously, the more it writes, the more repetitive it gets – not the best writing style and a give away that there was little human attention given to it.

Another obstacle I found is illustrated by the response I received after I told it to write a corporate ESG report like Intel:

“I’m sorry, I’m not able to write a corporate ESG report like Intel as it would require access to the company’s internal data and information. However, I can provide you with an overview of what such a report might include.

A typical corporate ESG report would include information on the company’s environmental, social, and governance practices.

Environmental: This section would cover the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its impact on the environment. It might include information on energy efficiency, renewable energy usage, and waste reduction efforts.

Social: This section would cover the company’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as its impact on the communities where it operates. It might include information on the company’s labor practices, human rights policies, and community engagement initiatives.

Governance: This section would cover the company’s corporate governance practices, including information on its board of directors, executive compensation, and risk management strategies.

Overall, a corporate ESG report would provide a comprehensive overview of a company’s performance in these areas and its efforts to create long-term value for its stakeholders.”

The most interesting aspect to me is that chatGPT thinks ESG data is wholly internal and not publicly available, yet Intel’s latest “Corporate Responsibility Report” is indeed available. Did the bot think that a “Corporate Responsibility Report” is completely different from an ESG report (which is what I asked for)? Maybe. I tried the same command with a couple other big companies that have produced CSR/ESG/sustainability reports for several years and the response was identical to the above, only with the other company’s name.

Without any real data to use, it just returns a very short, general high level summary of what it thinks a basic ESG report should contain. It doesn’t even offer any suggestions for relevant reporting frameworks – but since I didn’t specifically ask for that, it wasn’t provided. The bot apparently doesn’t have a sense for when it would be helpful and appropriate to offer suggestions, recommendations and references that are not specifically requested. That means you must be very specific in your commands and manage your exceptions somewhat.

At least for now, it appears that chatGPT is of very limited use in writing a company ESG report. You will just have to continue gathering your data and writing the narrative in the traditional manner. Sorry folks.

Our next installment in this series will look at how chatGPT handled regulatory questions. Teaser: I was surprised by how poorly it explained a 30 year old environmental regulation, but it did a reasonable job concerning an SEC regulation new enough that the bot should not have known about its existence.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile