Daily Management Review

New Study Finds 75% Large Listed Companies Short On Their Climate Commitment


New Study Finds 75% Large Listed Companies Short On Their Climate Commitment
According to an analysis conducted by sustainable finance firm Arabesque which focused on the shortcomings of corporate pledges to take action to tackle climate change, less than 25 per cent of the large public companies of the world are doing something on their own to address the climate crisis.
The analysis was conducted on companies in 14 of the largest stock indexes of the world and each of the companies given a "temperature score" on the basis of the publicly reported emissions data of the companies between 2015 and 2019.
Not more than 25 per cent of the companies which were examined were currently implementing strategies that could help them to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement by 2050, the analysis showed. The Paris agreement has set a target to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
There have been continued rise in emissions since 2015 despite commitments given by a growing number of companies to do their but to tackle global climate change.  According to Arabesque, which made use of data to assess corporate sustainability performance, there was a decrease in global Paris-alignment last year shows initial data.
Voluntary measures taken by companies "have made a difference here and there, but they don't add up to systemic change" was confirmed by the research, said  the company's chairman, Georg Kell.
"This is a critical year," Kell, who is founding director of the UN Global Compact, said. "Time is running out. We need to significantly step up, we have only a few years left."
The largest number of companies that are on course to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target by 2050 were listed in the flagship indexes in Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and Japan, Arabesque's research found. London's FTSE 100 and the US S&P 100 contained lesser number of such companies and even further lower numbers were found by the study for companies listed at Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Australia's ASX 50.
Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions – which are emissions generated directly and indirectly by companies, were covered in the study even though it did not cover emissions from the products they sell – also known as scope 3 emissions, because of difficulties of getting such data.
There was no public disclosure done of their greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 per cent of the companies that have a combined market value of $5 trillion, showed Arabesque's data. The report noted that the number was better than in 2014 but "has yet to translate into corporate climate action at scale," said Rebecca Thomas, who led the research.
"While overall progress is encouraging, a lot more needs to be done to keep the 1.5-degree goal within reach," she added.
There has been slow progress made by governments of the world particularly with respect to carbon pricing, Kell said. Carbon pricing is essentially imposing appropriate taxes on companies for carbon emissions which is widely believed to be the most effective way that can be used by companies to reduce carbon emissions.
"We have to price carbon significantly higher across the board in order to have systemic change," he added.
"The imperative to decarbonize is increasingly urgent and it will be forced upon corporations ready or not," Kell said. "Those that think ahead and anticipate a higher carbon price in the future will clearly be much better positioned."