Top corporate players admit Climate Action has reached a tipping point

Three weeks ahead of COP21, the UN climate change conference, when national leaders meet to agree a global deal to reduce carbon emissions and limit global temperature warming, disclosures from the world’s largest listed companies reveal the extent to which corporations have shifted their strategies over the past five years to become part of the solution to the climate challenge.

The international not-for-profit CDP – which holds the most comprehensive set of global corporate environmental data – has today issued its annual Climate Change Report on behalf of 822 investors representing US$95 trillion.

The new publication includes the 2015 Climate A List, which comprises those companies identified as A grade for their actions to mitigate climate change. Nearly 2,000 companies submitted information to be independently assessed against CDP’s scoring methodology; 113 have made the list, which features brands from around the world such as, Apple, Microsoft and Google, the three largest by market capitalization.

CDP’s executive chairman and co-founder Paul Dickinson says: “The influence of the corporation is mighty. The momentum of business action on climate change suggests we have reached a tipping point, where companies are poised to achieve their full potential. They need ambitious policy at both a national and international level that will support them in this regard and will catalyze participation from industry at scale.”

CDP charts the changed corporate landscape over five years, comparing data from 1,997 companies this year, with 1,799 in 2010. Companies globally are taking action and making investments to prepare for the transition to a low carbon economy. For example, at 94%, nearly all companies assign board or senior management responsibility to climate change and three quarters offer incentives for improving climate performance.

Nine of every ten companies now have activities in place that are lowering their carbon output, compared with less than half in 2010. The percentage of businesses with targets to reduce the intensity of their greenhouse gas emissions has also more than doubled.

Meg Whitman, President and CEO at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, formerly Hewlett-Packard, which has achieved A List status this year, says: “We must take swift and bold action to address the root causes of climate change. This means disrupting the status quo – changing the way we do business, holding ourselves and others accountable, and creating innovative solutions that drive a low-carbon economy.”

The growing momentum among the corporate world is coinciding with increasing engagement on climate change from the investor community. If the recently introduced landmark pension fund voting guidelines known as the Red Lines are applied, failure to disclose to CDP may put CEO jobs at risk. And more investors are betting on a sustainable future: US$21.4 trillion was invested in 2014 in funds with environmental, social and governance mandates, up 61% in two years*.

Companies are responding to investor needs by improving the quality of the data they report through CDP. However, notable by their absence in CDP’s analysis are Agricultural Bank of China Ltd, Berkshire Hathaway, and Facebook the three largest by market capitalization companies that have failed to disclose to investors via CDP.

The CDP Global Climate Change Report 2015 and the Climate A List are available on the CDP website, where you can find climate change rankings for thousands of companies that publicly disclose through CDP’s climate change program and are released today.

*According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance:

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