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Progress Toward a Lower Carbon Future

September 24, 2012

The Carbon Disclosure Project's S&P 500 Climate Change Report for 2012 was issued a week or so ago, and that report showed some positive signs that corporations are making significant progress in setting, tracking, and achieving carbon reduction goals.

Some highlights:

  • The average disclosure score increased by 13% to 70 (out of a possible 100), and the disclosure score required for entry into the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) (described below) increased
    11% to 92.

  • The average performance score increased by 44% to 46, and 33% of companies that responded to the CDP survey had a performance score increase of 20 points or more versus 2011.

  • 52% of respondents reported emissions reduction activities versus 35% in 2011.

  • 92% of companies reported board or executive-level oversight compared to 86% in 2011.

  • 74% of companies identified climate change opportunities that had the potential to generate a substantive change in business operations, revenues and expenditures versus 69% in 2011.

  • 25% of respondents disclosed carbon use information in their annual reports, up from 18% in 2011.

Each year, company responses to the CDP questionnaire are analyzed and the highest scoring companies for disclosure and/or performance enter into the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) and the Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI).

This year's CDLI includes 53 companies (including Microsoft and UPS which each scored 99 out of a possible 100 points). The average disclosure score for these leadership companies increased to 94, up from 88 in 2011, 86 in 2010 and 82 in 2009, which indicates continued improvement in the quality and depth of responses to the CDP survey.

The CPLI includes 15 companies that achieved a band A score in carbon reduction performance in 2012, up from 11 companies in 2011. These companies include: Ace, Allergen, Allstate, Autodesk, Bank of America, Best Buy, Eaton, Exelon, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, NYSE Euronext, Pepco Holdings, Pfizer and Wells Fargo.

While American Express did not achieve leadership status, our disclosure score was 89, which was nine points higher than 2011, and our performance grade moved from band C to band B. We were just three points lower than the leadership group, so we feel good about our progress, and we're hopeful that both our disclosure and our performance in carbon reduction will move us into the leadership category sometime in the near future.

Clearly, there are many companies that are heeding the words of Kim Slicklein, President of OgilvyEarth Worldwide, which are stated in the Foreword to the report: "Embracing sustainability at the heart of your business is essential to continued relevance across all stakeholder groups, including your customers and consumers. This is the magic formula for building a business primed to thrive in the twenty-first century."

If you have a comment or question, please click here and send me a note.

P.S. Did you know that there are 655 financial institutions with assets of US$78 trillion that are signatories to the CDP 2012 information request?


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