Leading companies’ carbon performance published

An organisation which asks companies to come clean about their efforts to reduce emissions - then publishes the results - has unveiled the latest wave of responses.

The Carbon Disclosure Project also names and shames those who refuse to open their books on greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, Thursday, the CDP published two reports, one looking at the FTSE350 – the biggest companies listed on the UK stock exchange – and a second looking at the performance of companies operating in Europe.

Utilities took the lead in tackling their emissions, showing that most of those producing and selling energy and water are well aware of their responsibilities and the reputational risks from not being seen to do enough.

Banks and other financial institutions also make a good showing on the list of organisations taking real steps to cut emissions.

Leading luminaries include Shell, Tesco, Unilever, HSBC, Lloyds, Scottish & Southern Energy, United Utilities and engineering and environmental consultancy giant Atkins.

The biggest non-responders included British American Tobacco, Carphone Warehouse and a number of major energy and materials companies.

The UK report is produced for the CDP by by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and shows British companies are disclosing the highest ever levels of greenhouse gas emissions at 390 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent, equating to 61% of total UK emissions.

Yet despite the significant influence they hold in the UK’s level of emissions, just 35% of the FTSE 350 disclosed emissions reduction targets.

This is lower than the 51% of Global 500 companies reporting emission reduction targets to CDP.

“This year the UK’s largest businesses are showing year-on-year improvement in the quantity and quality of climate change data disclosed,” said CDP’s chief executive Paul Dickinson.

“Yet with regulation such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme making climate change an increasingly material issue, a greater number of UK companies need to be setting emissions reduction targets.

“A new global deal will be essential in providing a framework for businesses to set these targets.”

Interestingly, the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment in April 2010 was identified by 55% of responding UK companies as a risk, as well as being seen by 24% as an opportunity.

The best performing companies all shared the following traits:

  • They are taking effective action to manage risks and capitalise on new opportunities
  • Show carbon reduction activities that deliver results
  • Incorporate expected regulation into forward thinking and planning
  • Meanwhile, European companies are set to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 2.2% per annum, with strong evidence of considerable investment being made to cut emissions.

    54 companies report planned investments totalling some €100 billion in the coming years, aimed at reducing carbon intensity.

    Among energy intensive sectors, transportation and utilities demonstrate both the largest financial commitment and the most aggressive reduction targets.

    Sam Bond

    Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie