WHILE many of the world’s biggest companies are happy to talk the talk about climate change, few are walking the walk with specific actions aimed at cutting their impact on the planet, according to a new report.
Released today by the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which is supported by 225 of the world’s biggest investors, the report says that while 87% of responding companies see risks and opportunities in climate change, only 48% have implemented programs to cut their greenhouse gases.
The CDP, which is supported by investors representing $31.5 trillion in assets, wrote to 2,100 corporations around the world in February asking them to answer questions about their carbon emmissions. A total of 940 companies responded to the 2006 questionnaire.
Among the FT500 companies in the group, 72% or 360 answered the CDP’s questionnaire. Last year, 71% of the FT500 responded, up sharply from 2004 when 59% answered and 2003 when 47% replied.
The highest response rate was 94% in the Electric Utilities – International sector, the report said. Europe continues to have the highest regional response rate with 86% answering the questionnaire.
In North America, 66% replied. The CDP noted, however, that prominent U.S. FT500 companies American Express, Boeing, Home Depot and Wal-Mart responded for the first time.
The report said the average quality and sophistication of responses continued to improve. A growing proportion of FT500 companies are using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to report their emissions.
“The findings of [the project] confirm that awareness of the risks and opportunities posed by climate change has risen dramatically among investors and the companies they own. But awareness alone will not drive the changes in investment and corporate strategy needed if disastrous climate change is to be avoided, for that investors will have to put the CDP data to work,” said James Cameron, Chairman of the CDP.
The CDP’s signatories include both public and private sector investors. Assets represented by this year’s campaign rose $10 trillion to $31.5 trillion from $21 trillion in 2005.
The full report is available free online.