22 October 2009

CDP: 80% of companies want to reduce their CO2 emissions

Last Tuesday, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2009 was announced. Mistra’s Sustainable Investments research programme has compiled the report for the Nordic companies, and presented the results at Hasselbacken in Stockholm.

Of some 200 companies surveyed, 128 responded to the detailed questionnaire, which covered corporate environmental performance and emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Swedish companies had the highest response rate, 85%, followed by the Finnish and Danish ones with 68%. The Norwegian firms lagged far behind, with a 35% response rate.

‘You’ve got to remember that this survey says nothing about how environment-friendly a company is, but instead how well they report on these issues. It’s also important to note the reporting is done by the companies themselves, and no one verifies their responses,’ says Ian Hamilton at Sustainable Investments, one of the speakers during the day.

The Norwegian companies’ poor response rate raises many questions but provides fewer reliable answers. One theory may be that Norway is independent, outside the European Union, and has more of an agenda of its own. However, it is encouraging that the Norwegian companies top the league in terms of being most transparent (78%).

The most criticised firms, and those that emit most, also rank highest on the transparency list. They include energy, commodity (raw materials, such as metal companies) and industrial companies. It is, moreover, these companies that lobby politicians most frequently.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report may be seen primarily as a report for investors. Existing research from Sustainable Investments and other sources indicate that the non-financial information is what drives value and will exert ever greater influence in the future. Ironically, the CDP report shows that the financial companies themselves rank lowest in terms of transparency (only 55%).

The difference compared with energy, materials and industrial enterprises is explained by the fact that the companies in the spotlight have, for a long time, have been forced to become transparent for the sake of their credibility. They have also long actively worked on environmental issues and adapted their own processes. The financial companies, however, are inexperienced and have a steep learning curve ahead of them.

Eighty per cent of the companies report they have reduction plans for their own CO2 emissions.

‘CDP persuades others to join in. The companies involved induce others in their own sector to become more ambitious,’ Ian Hamilton says.

Other speakers during the day included Paul Simpson of CDP, who presented the results of the Global 500, and Stéphane Voisin from CA Cheuvreux, who analysed the latest responses from Europe’s largest companies (Euro 300).

Worldwide, the CDP holds the largest registry of corporate greenhouse-gas emissions. This year’s global survey, the seventh in succession, was sent to 3,500 companies.

Mistra Mistra