Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Americans begin to move into target-setting mode

October 2009

There has been a ‘sharp spike’ in the proportion of major US companies reporting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets over the past year, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The project’s new 2009 figures show that more than half of the largest US companies that responded to its annual call for data on carbon management now have some kind of emissions reduction target, compared with only a third last year.

This year 169, or 52 per cent, of the 332 S&P 500 companies that responded said they had emissions reduction goals, compared with 102, or 32 per cent, of the 320 that responded last year.

The CDP says the figures show reductions targets ‘are now moving from a nice-to-have to a need-to-do’ in the US corporate world. It also says those  companies that disclose targets are now reporting on them to ‘the greatest level of detail to date’.

The picture is mirrored, though less dramatically, among Global 500 companies, which are the largest by market capitalization across the world. They also show a rise in reporting of emissions targets, up from 72 per cent last year to 83 per cent now.

The rise in target-setting disclosure in the US was the most notable element of this year’s CDP results, which otherwise suggest that a hard core of major American companies have not yet accepted the need to report on carbon management issues to the CDP, which was set up in 2000 by an alliance of 475 institutional investors.

Although the proportion of S&P 500 companies responding to this year’s CDP call for data was the highest ever, it was only marginally up, from 64 to 66 per cent, meaning that a third still do not take part. By contrast, 82 per cent of the Global 500 now file data with the CDP.
Among the largest US non-responders were Phillip Morris,, General Dynamics, Comcast, Lockheed Martin and Caterpillar.

The survey does, however, show continuing growth in high-level support for climate change action in large US companies, with 68 per cent of respondents this year reporting that they have board or executive-level responsibility for climate change oversight – up from 65 per cent last year.
For the first time this year the CDP judged the actual performance of global companies on climate change, as well as how they scored on disclosure (see box for the latter). Only two companies – BASF and Cisco Systems – featured in the top 12 of each ranking.
Highest scorers on climate disclosure – 2009
HSBC Holdings
Chevron Energy
Cisco Systems
Public Service Enterprise Group Spectra Energy
Bank of Montreal
Rio Tinto

Carbon Disclosure Project | North America | Climate change

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