How CDP Leaders are Seizing Climate-Related Business Opportunities

How CDP Leaders are Seizing Climate-Related Business Opportunities

Image CC licensed by Flickr user dandeluca

Monday saw the launch of CDP's 2010 analysis at a groundbreaking event in New York. From the Bank of America headquarters, we linked up with audiences in every continent by Cisco Telepresence -- in London, Beijing, Nairobi, Washington and Sao Paolo -- to hear how the world's biggest companies are taking on the challenge of tackling climate change.

In 2010, 82 percent of the world's largest companies, known as the Global 500, reported their climate change strategies and emissions data to investors through CDP. We can see that climate change is now becoming a mainstream boardroom issue, moving from sustainability departments into business divisions across many global companies, as well as up into the boardroom.

Eighty-five percent of these Global 500 companies now report board or executive level oversight of climate change, and 48 percent now embed climate change initiatives into their overall business strategies. This is a positive development since the first year of corporate carbon reporting through CDP in 2003, when we saw less than 50 percent of Global 500 companies reporting any data. Climate Week logo

What is also striking today is that nine out of 10 global companies identify significant commercial opportunities from climate change, including the provision of low carbon solutions, such as smart grids, and energy efficiency technologies.

There are many opportunities for companies to seize competitive advantage and cost-benefits. Just some examples of how companies are seizing the opportunities to cut emissions through their products include:

• U.K. broadcaster Sky's new set-top box will cut their customers' energy bills by an estimated £20 million (US$32.2 million) a year; and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 124,000 tonnes.
• Samsung say a 1 percent decrease in brand value caused by insufficient climate change response is equivalent to losing about US$200 million.
• Du Pont's goal is to increase annual revenue by at least US$2 billion by 2015 from products that help customers reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As of 2009 annual revenue from those products was US$731 million.
• PG&E has saved customers more than US$650 million on their energy bills through gas and electric energy efficiency programs, with benefits of US$70 million for shareholders.
• Telepresence shows clear benefits. Research from CDP and AT&T found that companies can achieve a return on investment in just 15 months and save nearly 900 business trips in the first year of use.

We now have 86 percent of the Global 500 companies seeing significant opportunities. Leading companies are already seizing commercial carbon opportunities and beginning to shift their business strategy in this direction. 

"We are on the verge of a new industrial revolution that must succeed if we are to avoid a future of unchecked climate change," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at yesterday's event. 

And according to Steve Westly, former California Controller, it is carbon innovations that will pull us out of recession.

Barbara Kux, chief sustainibility officer at Siemens, also spoke of business innovation and opportunity: "We are in a solution role not a problem role ... the technology to solve the climate problem is here. We just need to use it."

But much more needs to be done. The CDP event sent a resounding message: Climate change needs to be tackled and it needs to be tackled now. The longer we leave it, the harder it will be. "Business as usual is a recipe for losing competitive advantage and long-term profitability," said Figueres said.

Businesses that seize the opportunities and create the low carbon technologies of the future will be the winners.

Joanna Lee is chief partnerships officer at the Carbon Disclosure Project. Articles, analyses and resource material about Climate Week NYºC are available at For more information and event developments, visit and Twitter @ClimateWeekNYC.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user dandeluca.