Corporate carbon reporting needs ‘considerable’ improvement

Businesses have to considerably improve on reporting what impact their operations and products have on climate change, reveals a UK report published last week by British Accountancy firm ACCA and the FTSE Group.

The report, Improving Climate Change Reporting, takes a look at the performance of 42 UK companies.

Businesses, especially energy-intensive companies, are now expected to disclose how they are justifying their contributions to climate change in terms of policies, targets, product innovation, risk management and initiatives to reduce gas emissions.

Roger Adams, ACCA Executive Director – Technical, said:

“Since the late 1980s, things have moved at a rapid pace. Reporting has developed from basic impact on society and the economy through the initial concept of ‘non-financial’ reporting to an acceptance of the need for external verification and is now moving to metrics to assess impacts on climate change.”

Results of the research showed that while 80% of the companies surveyed include a climate change policy statement, only 25% of those with a high product impact include a product climate change policy, with only 7% having a named senior person responsible for this.

While 57% disclosed short- or medium-term targets for carbon emissions, only 43% provided long-term (over 5 years) targets while no organisation disclosed any product targets.

On the upside, 89% provided some form of carbon data in their reporting. Over half had this verified independently.

Highlighted companies included Centrica whose reports allow investors to see the financial impact of carbon trading; Transport for London for the organisation’s impacts and reasons for trends in climate change performance; National Grid for setting long-term target of 60% reduction of its emissions by 2050 in the context of government targets.

“While particular issues were handled well, no single company was found to be reporting evenly across all the key climate change issues – especially those relating to product impacts and initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. And reporting, even at this patchy level, is not widely practised or monitored,” said Roger Adams.

Dana Gornitzki

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