Report claims IT sector is leading in adoption of climate change reporting best practices, but overall progress remains patchy
IBM, Tesco and Dell have taken the gold, solver and bronze positions in a new league table assessing firms' response to climate change, released last week by the Ceres coalition of investment firms.
The study, authored by analysts RiskMetrics Group, assessed the climate change governance and reporting practices of 63 of the world's largest consumer-facing multinationals, including firms from across the technology, retail, pharmaceutical and clothing sectors.
IBM, Tesco and Dell topped the ranking, with scores out of 100 of 79, 78 and 77 points respectively. The companies were praised for setting carbon emission reduction targets, boosting energy efficiency efforts, increasing the amount of energy they source from renewable energy sources and incorporating environmental considerations into product design.
The technology sector was also highlighted as a leader in climate change governance best practices, with Intel singled out alongside IBM and Dell for its commitment to improving the energy efficiency of both its own datacentres and its product portfolio.
However, the report also found that while there was growing pressure from investors for listed firms to disclose climate change risks and offer clear guidance on how they plan to exploit opportunities arising from the emergence of low carbon economies, adoption of carbon management best practices remained extremely patchy.
More than half of the 63 companies assessed scored less than 50 points in the league table, with the median score standing at just 38 points.
In addition, the report also revealed a continuing absence of board level support for climate change strategies, finding that only 11 of the companies assessed have management deliver climate specific performance updates to the board.
"Many companies, especially technology and pharmaceutical firms, are doing a better job of integrating climate change into their business strategies," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres. "But the overall responses among these companies are very spotty, especially in the restaurant, real estate and travel and leisure sectors where climate change is barely on their radar."
Anne Stausboll, interim chief investment officer at the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension fund in the US and a member of Ceres, said that there was a strong business case for firms to enhance their climate change strategies and reporting mechanisms. "There is a strong link between sound reporting and management of climate- and energy-related challenges, and the long-term financial viability of companies we invest in," she said.
The report calls on firms to embrace a raft of best practices to enhance their climate change governance, including linking environmental performance to executive remuneration packages, setting company wide energy efficiency standards and renewable energy purchasing targets, and implementing green procurement policies.
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