Big companies increase carbon footprint

24 September 2013

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25 September 2013 | Marino Donati

The biggest carbon emitters among the world’s largest companies are still increasing their green house gas output.

According to the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013, the 500 largest listed companies in the world produce 3.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas, with the 50 biggest carbon emitters responsible for nearly three quarters of it.

The highest emitting companies mainly operate in the energy, materials and utilities sectors. Their carbon output has risen by 1.65 per cent to 2.54 billion tonnes over the past four years, the report said.

The report is written by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and professional services firm PwC. The analysis is based on the climate and energy data of 3,892 companies listed on the FTSE Global 500 Equity Index.

Paul Simpson, chief executive at CDP, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating sustainable economies, said governments should provide incentives to make big emitters improve.

“Many countries are demonstrating signs of recovery following the global economic downturn,” he said. “However, clear scientific evidence and increasingly severe weather events are sending strong signals that we must pursue routes to economic prosperity while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is imperative that big emitters improve their performance in this regard and governments provide more incentives to make this happen.” 

The report also highlighted a lack of detailed reporting by some companies, with emissions from nearly half of the most carbon intensive activities in companies’ supply chains yet to be measured.

Lack of data on emissions from sources related to, rather than direct, company activities, may lead firms to underestimate their full carbon impact, the study found.

Companies that are committed to managing their impact on the environment are generating improved financial and environmental results, the report concludes. It cites firms including BMW, Nestlé and Cisco Systems as good examples of this.

The report also found businesses giving employees monetary incentives to cut energy consumption and carbon emissions are 18 per cent more successful at achieving reductions.

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