CDP: More big businesses see risks from climate change

This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the Royal Bank of Canada did not refuse to share emissions data with CDP this year; rather, RBC has moved to an every-other-year schedule with CDP.

Although few politicians aside from President Obama dare utter the words "climate change," more global businesses see its impact as a "real and present" danger to their operations, according to a new analysis from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

More than three-quarters (81 percent) of the world's largest public companies that report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data and sustainability strategies now include physical threats and disruptions from climate change -- such as flooding, drought and fires -- among their corporate risk disclosures, reports the latest CDP Global 500 Climate Change report, co-written with professional services firm PwC.

What's more, 37 percent of the 405 companies reporting to CDP list those factors as a serious threat, up from 10 percent in 2012.

“Extreme weather events are causing significant financial damage to markets,” said Paul Simpson, CEO of the CDP. “Investors therefore expect corporations to think more about climate resilience," he said. "There are still leaders and laggards but the economic driver for action is growing, as is the number of investors requesting emissions data. Governments seeking to build strong economies should take note.”

More progress needed

The number of companies integrating climate change factors into their overall business strategies rose by 10 percent over the past year, contributing to a reported 13.8 percent reduction in corporate GHG emissions between 2009 and 2012.

Still, about one-third of the companies covered by the report reported no emissions reductions. And some major Global 500 companies did not share emissions data with CDP this year, including Amazon.com, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Royal Bank of Canada, Caterpillar Inc., Comcast Corporation, America Movil, Lukoil, Bank of China and National Oilwell Varco.

Photo of cracked ice provided by Sergey Vasilyev via Shutterstock

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