Mounting investor demands for enhanced environmental performance

Business leaders at the world's largest listed companies have been facing growing pressure from investors to embrace environmental best practices, following the launch of the Carbon Disclosure Project reporting season and the publication of new research showing shareholder support for environmental resolutions is on the rise.

The CDP announced that it has kicked off its annual disclosure season, writing to more than 5,000 public companies around the world requesting information on their carbon emissions and climate change strategy.

Significantly, the group said the number of institutional investors supporting the annual requests for information has increased 10 percent to 722 separate investors, meaning that the initiative is backed by institutions with $87 trillion of assets under management — equivalent to around one-third of the world's invested capital.

A nonprofit, the CDP aims to help investors manage climate risks and encourage businesses to measure their climate impacts and develop mitigation and adaptation strategies by requesting relevant information from listed companies.

As part of its annual disclosure season, companies will now have until May 30 to submit climate information to the organization using a standardized approach to measurement.

Last year, more than 80 percent of the Global 500 companies responded to CDP requests for information and the group is seeing a growing number of organizations around the world providing data on their emissions performance.

"Since pioneering a system for corporate climate disclosure a little over 10 years ago, the number of investor signatories to CDP programs has grown more than twentyfold and growth in the number of companies using CDP has nearly matched this rate," said Paul Simpson, chief executive of the CDP. "This is testament to the economic relevance of environmental data to investment decisions."

Next page: Undergoing a sea change