Big-company climate commitments creep forward

GreenBiz Group

Editor’s note: This essay is based on the second edition of the David Gardiner and Associates (DGA) Corporate Climate Tracker, which is updated on an ongoing basis. Check back for exclusive, periodic updates. You can find the article introducing the tracker here.

Since the initial publication of the Corporate Climate Tracker in March, climate change has remained a hot headline item; July became the hottest month on record, (some) Democratic presidential candidates have release climate plans, and businesses have continued to announce new climate-related commitments. 

Particularly as the United States heads into the 2020 election season, business remains a critical stakeholder and voice on climate change. 

The DGA Tracker is designed to help stakeholders understand how businesses are — or aren’t — engaging on climate. By looking specifically at Fortune 500 companies’ commitments across a suite of voluntary climate-related initiatives, we can get develop a better sense of the pace and progress of activity in this part of the market. 

Ambitious business engagements help expand and accelerate markets, and these actions tell policymakers that addressing climate change is important to, and consistent with, good business practice. 

What has changed since March?

The Corporate Climate Tracker was developed and is maintained by DGA, a clean energy and sustainability advisory firm, using publicly available data. The tracker captures participation in climate-related initiatives from Advanced Energy EconomyCeres, The Climate Group, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), Science-Based Targets Initiative, We Are Still In and the We Mean Business Coalition

DGA, Corporate Climate Tracker
David Gardiner and Associates
Looking at activity through June, there are several notable updates:
  • Overall, 114 Fortune 500 companies are participating in at least one tracked climate initiative, up from 109 companies. This is still less than 25 percent of the Fortune 500.
  • Companies that joined new initiatives in the past four months include Citigroup, Anthem, United Parcel Service, Prudential Financial, The Walt Disney Company, The 3M Company, PNC Financial Services, PayPal Holdings, L Brands, MGM Resorts International, The Hershey Company and Keurig Dr. Pepper.
  • Caesars Entertainment (No. 365), Advanced Micro Devices (No. 460), Intuit (No. 482) and Levi Strauss (No. 500) became part of the Fortune 500 earlier this summer. Together, these companies participate in 14 tracked initiatives. All four participate in both the Science Based Targets Initiative and We Mean Business.
  • Three companies tracked previously — Monsanto (No. 199), Sealed Air Corporation (No. 456) and Wyndham Destinations (No. 479) — are no longer on the Fortune 500 list. Monsanto was acquired by Bayer. Sealed Air moved to No. 550 on the list and Wyndham moved to No. 561. Together, these three companies participated in seven tracked initiatives. 
  • Every tracked initiative added at least one new participating company this quarter: We Mean Business (eight new companies); Science Based Targets (five); Ceres (five); RE100 (four); REBA (three); We Are Still In (one); and AEE (one).
  • In total, this update captures 27 new commitments across the full suite of the seven initiatives. 
  • The technology, financials and food, beverages and tobacco sectors remain the three top-ranked sectors by number of companies participating in at least one initiative. 
  • Twenty-three Fortune 500 companies participate in only one initiative. One company (Salesforce) is participating in all seven. Thirty-two companies participate in four or more. 

One reason DGA created the tracker is to provide the market a sense of the movement across corporate climate commitments. It’s positive to see that corporate participation is up across the two quarters considered to date.