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CDP announces 2018 A List, naming top brands climate leaders

Leadership in action: CDP's data is also being widely used to inform investment decisions.

The Davos Summit kicked off this week with the unveiling of the latest edition of the CDP league table celebrating those global businesses that are "pioneering" efforts to tackle escalating environmental risks.

The influential NGO's A-list draws on data disclosed by over 6,800 companies detailing their work to tackle climate change, water security and deforestation. The investor-backed initiative provides all companies with an A to D rating based on their performance, with just the top 2 percent making it onto the A List.

The's report confirms that over 120 companies made it onto the A List for climate action, including high profile names such as Danone, Infosys Limited and Microsoft.

Gap, Ford and L'Oréal were among a group of over 25 companies included on the A List for their water security action, while just six companies were highlighted for their work to tackle deforestation, including Tetra Pak and UPM-Kymmene.

A host of leading global multinationals, such as Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and Unilever, appeared on the list, but privately owned fragrance giant Firmenich took the plaudits as the only company to get As across the board for its actions on climate change, deforestation and water security.

CDP sends information requests to thousands of companies on behalf of over 650 investors with assets of $87 trillion and 115 major purchasing organizations with a combined spend of $3.3 trillion, calling on them to publicly disclose information on their environmental performance and strategies across a range of metrics.

Dexter Galvin, global director of corporates and supply chains at CDP, said the list was designed to encourage more businesses to work towards delivering more ambitious sustainability strategies.

"As the recent report from the IPCC showed, the next decade is crucial in our shift to a sustainable economy, and we believe corporates are at the heart of this transition," he said. "By ranking companies, we aim not just to highlight leaders' best practice, but to inspire all businesses to aim higher and take more action."

The next decade is crucial in our shift to a sustainable economy, and we believe corporates are at the heart of this transition. By ranking companies we aim not just to highlight leaders' best practice, but to inspire all businesses to aim higher.
He added that there was compelling evidence that those companies that boasted the strongest environmental performance also tended to perform well financially. "That the STOXX Global Climate Change Leaders Index — which is based on the CDP A List — outperformed the STOXX Global 1800 by 5.4 percent per annum from December 2011 to July 2018, demonstrates that the leadership on environmental issues shown by the A List goes hand in hand with being a successful and profitable business," he said.

Tegwen Le Berthe, head of ESG development at CPR Asset Management, said CDP's data also was being widely used to inform investment decisions.

"The corporate environmental data CDP collects forms the backbone of the responsible investing market — without this data, investors wouldn't have the information they require to offer ESG products and services," he said. "At CPR Asset Management, we believe that the integration of ESG data into investment processes generates value in the long term. We need to know how exposed a company is to environmental risks and their long-term strategy for the low-carbon transition, in order to identify future market leaders."

In addition to ranking companies based on their CDP grading, the report also highlights a raft of examples of environmental best practices and innovative corporate initiatives, such as property giant Landsec's work to reduce its energy intensity by 14.3 percent in 2017, delivering $3.66 million of cost savings in the process, or Tetra Pak's work to achieve 100 percent fulfilment of its chain of custody certification and switch to only accepting paperboard certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The report was launched on the second day of a Davos Summit where climate and environmental issues are set to play a central role.

Following on from the release of last week's report from the WEF detailing how environmental issues dominate its annual risk outlook report, today also will see the publication of a major new study on the huge environmental and financial benefits that would result from adopting more circular business models.

The latest reports follow the opening of the Davos Summit last week, which saw broadcaster David Attenborough issue a stark warning to the world's political and business leaders on the scale of the environmental threat the global economy now faces.

"I am quite literally from another age," he said. "I was born during the Holocene — the 12,000[-year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm and create civilizations... [Now] the Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans."

He argued businesses and politicians could lead a credible response to escalating environmental crises, but only if they inform the public of the threat and take bold and rapid action.

"We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand," he said, adding that "if people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission for business and governments to get on with the practical solutions".

He also argued that the next two years of international talks on the environment would prove critical to the future direction of the global economy.

"Over the next two years there will be United Nations decisions on climate change, sustainable development and a new deal for nature," he said. "Together these will form our species' plan for a route through the Anthropocene. What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years."

It came as another separate sustainability ranking — the 2019 Global 100 — also was released by Corporate Knights, showing that corporations in the list outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index benchmark in terms of investment returns last year.

From February 2005 to last month, Global 100 companies made a net investment return of 127.35 percent, compared to 118.27 percent for the firms in the MSCI ACWI index, according to Corporate Knights. Moreover, Global 100 firms also displayed double the carbon productivity and derived more of their revenues from green or social impactful goods and services over the period, the list shows.

Danish bioscience firm Chr. Hansen topped the ranking, followed by French luxury goods brand Kering, Finnish fuels firm Neste Corporation, Danish energy firm Ørsted and British pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline.

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