Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Low carbon future does not mean low profit, finds CDP report

November 2014

Companies taking action to mitigate climate change have outperformed the Bloomberg World Index by 9.6%.

The figures prove that a low carbon future does not mean low profit, say assessors who placed 187 companies in a global top performers’ table.

The information was gathered from nearly 2,000 listed companies at the request of investors representing more than a third of the world’s invested capital.

It was then assessed independently for the compilation of an A list for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a London-based international non-profit organisation providing a global system for measuring vital environmental data.

The 187 businesses, including AG, BMW, Centrica, Samsung and Unilever, have a “superior approach” to climate change mitigation, says the CDP.

These companies have collectively reduced their total emissions by 33 million metric tons in the past reporting year.

Their achievement is the equivalent of turning London’s car owners into cyclists for two and a half years.

The largest companies by market capitalisation in the table include Apple, Google and Microsoft. Almost half of them are Europe-based and a third are in the US or Japan.

More than a quarter of the Spanish and Belgian companies participating in the CDP’s climate change programme are in the list, giving Spain and Belgium proportionally the most leaders. Australia, Canada and Switzerland have little representation.

The three largest businesses failing to give vital climate change data were, Berkshire Hathaway and Comcast.

Among the best performers, Iberdrola, the Spanish utility company, reports a $3.8bn (£2.36bn, €2.97bn) investment in energy monitoring and distribution systems to cut emissions by 50,000 metric tons.

General Motors, whose measures included redesigning routes and switching from road to rail transport, cut emissions by 244,000 metric tons in a year and saved $287m.

In Spain the industrial technology group Abengoa is reported as saving $911m yearly by switching to solar power.

In Korea the construction group Samsung C&T predicts a profit boost of at least 9% within seven years by meeting demands for green products.

Business is warned by the former US treasury secretary Henry Paulson that climate change is “the single biggest risk that exists to the economy today”.

Another warning comes from the CDP: “It is likely that a lack of clear long-term policy is stalling corporate progress towards ambitious long-term targets.

“Companies and their trade associations should therefore engage more with governments to influence national policies that will unlock the full potential of business to decrease greenhouse gases worldwide.”

A third warning, with some hope, is from Paul Simpson, the CDP’s chief executive: “The bottom line is at risk from the climate crisis. The unprecedented environmental challenges that we confront today are also economic problems. This irrefutable fact is filtering through to companies and investors.”

Global | Climate change


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