CDP reveals leaders and laggards on carbon management

More companies responding to the opportunities created by climate change, finds the tenth annual Carbon Disclosure Project survey

Siemens, Deutsche Post, BASF, Bayer and Samsung Electronics top the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2010 carbon management leadership index, published on 20 September.

Each year the CDP, which represents 534 institutional investors with assets of $64trn, surveys carbon data disclosure and emissions reduction performance by 500 of the world’s largest firms listed on the FTSE Global Equity Index Series.

The response rate was 82%, the same as last year, suggesting carbon reporting has hit a plateau among large firms. The CDP says the result is impressive considering the economic downturn and the uncertainty over climate change policy caused by the failure to reach a legally-binding agreement to cut carbon emissions at the UN summit in Copenhagen last year.

Companies that failed to respond to the CDP survey include online retailer Amazon, US conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway owned by business tycoon Warren Buffet, and Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The survey finds that 85% of Global 500 companies that responded have a board-level or senior executive responsible for climate change. However, only half of companies are embedding climate change initiatives into their business strategy.

The CDP says more companies than ever before recognise the opportunities created by climate change. Nearly nine out of ten respondents see advantages, for instance, in developing greener products which help customers cut their emissions.

Two-thirds of respondents report implementing emissions reduction targets, but only one-fifth can demonstrate significant emissions reductions.

The survey finds that Europe is still far ahead of the US. At 21%, Europe has the highest proportion of its respondents in the carbon management leadership index, compared with just 6% of US firms.

Non-responding companies are concentrated outside Europe or the US, for example China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Poland and Russia.

Last year the CDP beefed up the leadership index by strengthening its assessment of performance rather than focusing on disclosure (ENDS Report, September 2009).