KPMG: Lack of consistency clouds carbon reporting

Carbon reporting from the world's largest 250 companies lacks consistency and makes it practically impossible for stakeholders to compare performances, according to the 2015 edition of the KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting.

KPMG analysed carbon information published by 250 companies in CSR and annual reports. They found that despite 80% disclosing carbon information, the quality and reasons of the data ‘varied dramatically’.

KPMG’s global head of sustainability reporting & assurance and lead author of the survey Wim Bartels said: “All stakeholders should be able to access good quality, comparable information on a company’s carbon performance quickly and easily from the company’s annual financial or corporate responsibility reports. That is simply not the case today.

“There is a clear need for improvement and global reporting guidelines on carbon could help to address this problem. It should not be left to companies alone to figure this out; industry bodies, regulators, standard setters, investors and others all have a role to play.”

The survey found that just over half of the companies stated carbon reduction targets in reports; of these two thirds offers no explanation of why those targets were selected. Half of the companies that refer to carbon reporting do so by referring readers to alternative sources such as CDP databases.

The type of emissions reported also varies widely. While 84% report on their own operations only 50% incorporate supply chain reporting. Only 7% include information on emissions resulting from the use and disposal of their products and services.

Ambitious targets

KPMG recommends that companies should set bolder targets, realising that they will receive less scrutiny for failing to meet targets compared to having none set in the first place. The report also states that long-term roadmaps. Monitoring of carbon levels should also be engrained at business level to ensure sufficient levels of management and oversight.

While European countries still produce better carbon reporting standards, KPMG highlights that carbon reporting is now more common in Asia Pacific than it is in Europe or America. This is largely driven by government regulations which make carbon reporting mandatory.


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Approximately 95% of Global 250 companies have released a sustainability report to realise the reputational, investment, and efficiency benefits that the reporting process provides.

What’s more, the practice is being adopted by smaller businesses, making it an essential tool for forward-thinking organisations of all sizes.

Yet constructing a sustainability or CSR report is still something that produces varying results. The different framework regulations mean that some companies publish things they don’t necessarily value.

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Matt Mace

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