Carbon emissions from the world’s top 50 emitters have increased since 2009- CDP Report 2013

Submitted by: Kathryn Kasavel, Thursday, September 26, 2013

The world’s largest 50 carbon emitters have recorded increases in their carbon emissions since 2009 and there is a greater need for these companies to do more to reduce their emissions. This is one of the main findings of the recently released Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 compiled by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  The Global 500 Climate Change Report for 2013 collates information received from 403 companies around the world and is targeted at companies, investors and policy makers in order to help them understand the various climate change related risks and opportunities that face business. This article highlights the main findings from the 2013 report.

Scope 1 and 2 emissions from the top 50 emitters have increased

According to the report, although the scope 1 and 2 emissions of the Global 500 have seen an overall decrease in emissions by 15% since 2009, the top 50 emitters, who emit 73% of total emissions, have seen an increase in their scope 1 and 2 emissions  by 1.65% for the same period. The report states that the world’s largest emitters need to do more to prevent climate change as they have the largest impact on global carbon emissions and thus the most opportunity to make large scale change. The scope 1 and 2 emissions from five of the largest emitter companies per sector have increased by an average of 2.3% since 2009. The sectors of Energy, Utilities and Materials alone, produce 87% of scope 1 and 2 emissions but represent less than a quarter of the Global 500.

Scope 3 emission reporting is incomplete

Scope 1 and 2 emissions have a 97% disclosure rate amongst most companies however the same cannot be said for scope 3 emissions which although easily identifiable, are not quantified adequately by the Global 500 companies. The report states that most companies have failed to report on the carbon–intensive activities in their value chains and have rather focused on other areas where they have the opportunity to make small reductions. The emissions from ‘sold products’ for example accounts for 76% of scope 3 emissions but is only reported by 25% of companies. Another example is evident in the financial sector where a high percentage of companies have reported on their scope 3 business travel emissions, but have overlooked the reporting of their scope 3 emissions from investment activity, which makes up a more significant percentage of their actual scope 3 emissions.

Financial incentives drive emission reductions

Providing employees with monetary rewards to reduce energy use or emissions is more likely to result in actual emission reductions, according to the Global 500 Climate Change Report for 2013. The CDP reports that 85% of companies that are providing financial incentives to their executive team or employees have reported emission reductions. Emission reduction is reported by fewer companies (67%) that don't provide this type of motivation. Therefore the report states that linking incentives to an environmentally responsible business strategy is the way forward to manage climate change.

Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013

Worldwide there were over 5000 companies that were asked by the CDP to report on climate change in 2013. 81% of the 500 largest companies, the Global 500, engaged with the CDP to report on their carbon footprints and climate change management experiences. The CDP developed a Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) which lists the top 10% of Global 500 companies with the highest disclosure rates. The minimum disclosure score to be considered on this list has increased from 90% in 2011 to 97% in 2013 and the number of performance leader companies has increased since 2012. The report states that this increase in carbon disclosure reflects a serious attitude to address climate change by the Global 500.

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Kathryn Kasavel