Ethical Performance
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Climate change reporting has become the norm

March 2008

Nearly all FT 500 sustainability reporters now publish information on their climate change impacts, suggests a new study.

The survey of 335 FT 500 sustainability reporters found that 78 per cent provided concrete data such as the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and 87 per cent covered the topic in some way. Two-thirds included a specific climate change section, and 41 per cent dealt with the issue in the chief executive’s or chairman’s introduction. All had produced a non-financial report in the past 15 months., which produced the study with the inspection and verification company SGS, said the results show that ‘for most of the world’s top companies, climate change is now a mainstream business issue’.

However, it said there were still areas for improvement. Only 16 per cent of the companies made clear where management responsibility for climate change issues lies, and only seven per cent assured their data. In addition, only about a third set out targets for reducing carbon emissions (see pie chart below).

The study, claimed as the first of its kind, had financial support from American Electric Power, GlaxoSmithKline, Shell, Telefónica, Volkswagen and Westpac.

Although only a handful of Chinese companies were surveyed, their progress on climate change reporting was thought to be particularly slow.

However, China’s 100 largest companies have been targeted for the first time by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an alliance of institutional investors that seeks information from businesses on their strategies and impacts.

The CDP sent its latest data request last month to just over 3000 companies, up from 2400 in 2007. The request to Chinese companies will be followed up by the consultancy SynTao.

Companies are asked to disclose their total greenhouse gas emissions and any steps being taken to manage them. An overall analysis will be published in September.

Among other things, companies are being quizzed on their lobbying practices and for details of their involvement in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The London-based CDP, which was formed in 2000, is now supported by 385 institutional investors with assets under management of $57trillion (£29.3tn), with 70 having joined this year. | Global | Reporting

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