Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Climate change request receives muted response

April 2009

Only a quarter of companies that supply goods to multinationals have responded to a request for climate change data on their activities.

The companies, including many small- and medium-sized enterprises, were asked to provide the information for the first time as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) supply chain programme, under which 34 high-profile businesses have agreed to encourage their suppliers to produce data.

However, of 2318 suppliers invited to complete a questionnaire just 634, or 27 per cent, did so. Six per cent formally declined, and the remainder ignored the request.

Supplier response rates varied dramatically according to the source of the requests. One multinational obtained responses from 88 per cent of its suppliers while another managed only six per cent.

The CDP said this reflected how well companies engaged with suppliers on climate change, and how much influence they had in the supply chain. But it also partly depended on a supplier’s location and business sector.

The best results were achieved with suppliers in North America, where 41 per cent responded, while those in Europe were worst (21 per cent). Industrial and consumer goods companies (both 31 per cent) were most likely to reply, and those in energy and finance had the worst record – fewer than one per cent responded.

The CDP, a seven-year-old group of more than 300 institutional investors, was formed to gather greenhouse gas emissions data from large companies. Every year it sends out a request for information to more than 3500 large companies worldwide.

Its supply chain project is an attempt to spread the data collection further afield through the influence of multinationals. The general CDP information request is sent on investors’ behalf to publicly listed companies, but the supply chain request is sent on customers’ behalf to their suppliers and contains slightly different questions.

The 34 companies urging their suppliers to report include Cadbury, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo and Unilever.

The number of responses from suppliers was low compared with those for the main CDP project but it can be expected to rise eventually, as responses to the main request increased every year in the CDP’s first six years. Last year they levelled off.

Response rates by country: a selection
Sweden (88 per cent)
South Korea (67)
Taiwan (65)
Japan (63)
Denmark (63)

Thailand (4)
France (8)
Italy (10)
Belgium (11)
Czech Republic (11)
Spain (13)

Carbon Disclosure Project | Global | Transparency

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