Big Gap Between Climate Awareness and Action for S&P 500

Big Gap Between Climate Awareness and Action for S&P 500

Although many U.S. companies are preparing for possible climate change regulation on the horizon, they are far behind their European counterparts in setting and disclosing emissions reductions targets.

The latest findings from the Carbon Disclosure Project analyzed responses from Global 500 and U.S. Standard and Poor’s companies. The findings revealed a big gap between awareness and action on the part of U.S. S&P 500 companies: Only a third of these respondents to the annual survey have emissions reduction goals in place despite 81 percent acknowledging climate change is a risk.

Seventy-seven percent of Global 500 companies responded to the CDP, with the majority viewing regulation as a key risk. Regulatory uncertainty, however, hindered many companies from making strategic investment decisions as they took a wait-and-see approach. Seventy-four percent of Global 500 companies responding to the CDP survey disclosed emissions reduction targets.

"We can see from 2008 responses to CDP a marked increase in levels of engagement from companies, with more companies reporting than ever before," CDP CEO Paul Dickinson said in a statement. "With increased regulation on the horizon, investors are requiring this information to better understand the credit worthiness of companies in their portfolio and how climate change might affect their profitability."

Global 500 utilities were the most transparent with a 93 percent response rate, compared to oil and gas companies, 69 percent of which responded to the CDP. The nonprofit represents 385 institutional investors managing $57 trillion in assets.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. S&P 500 companies responded to the CDP survey, compared to 57 percent in 2007. The level of disclosure increased in this year's responses, as did the number of companies that now have an executive-level officer with climate change responsibilities.

The top scoring companies in the U.S. Carbon Disclosure leadership Index are: PPG Industries, Exelon, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Co., Cisco, EMC and Prologis.

The highest scoring companies in the Global Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index are BASF, Bayer, Exelon, Iberdola, Scottish and Southern, Nissan Motor, Barclays, Merrill Lynch and Co., National Australia Bank and EMC.