The Carbon Disclosure Project

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Sector insights: what is driving climate change action in the world’s largest companies?

In both developed and emerging economies, the demand for growth is increasingly urgent. Growth is vital to lift people out of poverty and provide jobs and stability for restless populations. Delivering this in a carbon constrained, but paradoxically energy abundant world is a fundamental challenge. So far, there are few signs that either companies or countries have been able to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions growth.

Our analysis of companies this year shows that they are increasingly transparent and sophisticated about their approach to climate change, are more likely to verify their emissions and are looking beyond the boundary of their own operations.

Companies are reporting their emissions from their supply chain and the use of their products, although some significant gaps remain. However, despite progress in reporting on their approach to climate change, companies are in general not making significant reductions in emissions.

These findings are based on responses to the CDP’s annual request to the world’s 500 largest companies, asking them to measure and report what climate change means for their business. This request is sent on behalf of 722 institutional investors representing US$87 trillion of assets under management.

PwC has served as global advisor to CDP and report writer of its three flagship reports - the Global 500, S&P 500, and FTSE 350 reports, since 2008.

The Global 500 report assesses how ten key sectors are addressing the challenges of climate change. It looks at how growing markets for products and services are affecting companies’ responses to climate change. It also outlines trends seen in companies which are reporting barriers to actions.

This year, over 400 of the Global 500 companies responded to the CDP questionnaire. Their responses provide valuable insight into how the world’s largest companies are operating and driving action on emissions and climate change.

The main findings of the report are:

  • Corporate emissions are still closely linked to growth
    Total direct and indirect (scope 1 and scope 2) emissions have not changed significantly in the past five years. In fact, the 50 largest emitters have increased their emissions since 2009.
  • Companies are yet to report emissions from the most relevant parts of their value chains
    Current reporting of indirect value chain (scope 3) emissions does not reveal the full impact of a company’s value chain.
  • Money talks: financial incentives are driving emissions reductions
    Monetary rewards for employees, particularly at board-level, are powerful catalysts of climate action

Change in emissions reported by the 50 largest emitters in 2013 between 2009 and 2013 (+1.65%)

Global 500 Sector Assessment 20131

Assessment of each sector’s performance against the Global 500 average.

Significantly above average    Average    Significantly below average

1 The sector assessment is based on the following areas of the questionnaire: Emissions performance - Reporting of Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions data and % operational spend on energy costs, energy use, absolute and/or intensity targets, emission reduction activities, change in emissions from prior year; Governance - Level of Oversight, incentives/rewards, risk management approach; Verification/Stakeholder Engagement - Verification/ assurance, engagement with policy makers, communication of sustainability information to public; and Strategy - Integrated strategy, identified risks and opportunities, emissions trading.

The 2013 CDP S&P 500 report shows that the number of leaders on the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) doubled, indicating that a growing number of companies are embracing transparency and addressing the risks, and embracing the opportunities that come with climate change.

Leaders are doing 3 things to accelerate their sustainability agendas.

  • They’re going beyond reporting and investing to cut carbon emissions
    • 98% of leading companies (and 68% of all respondents) can link investments in emissions reductions to value creation. They are discovering new ways to boost efficiencies, create new markets, engage employees, and build competitive advantage.
  • They’re transforming their business models to prepare for the impacts of climate change
    • 78% of respondents are finding business opportunities in the face of climate change. They are incorporating climate change management into long-term resilience and, in the process, creating a strategic advantage.
  • They’re engaging multiple stakeholders
    • 69% of respondents are engaging with their value chains on climate change and emissions management. This includes their workforce, suppliers, consumers, governments and communities to broaden their influence on climate change issues.

For more information, please visit the US site.

The 2013 Carbon Disclosure Project report looks at whether UK companies are prepared for climate change and, in particular, the risks and opportunities from abroad. It builds on the conclusions from the report International Threats and Opportunities of Climate Change for the UK, prepared by PwC for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) earlier this year.

The CDP report shows that the majority of companies in the FTSE 350 sample have operations and emissions which originated abroad. It also shows that companies have a limited understanding of their value chain. In order for companies to be fully prepared for the international impacts of climate change, this report suggests a five point plan that UK companies can implement:

  • Engage executive team
  • Engage with your value chain
  • Identify and assess risks
  • Evaluate options for managing risks and capitalising on opportunities
  • Implement decisions, monitor effectiveness and plan for the future

For more information, including the report and an infographic, visit UK PwC’s CDP pages.

Contact us

Louise Scott

Director, Global Sustainability, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7734 958 942

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