Most European companies have no target for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions even though 80 percent see climate change as a business risk, a survey has found.
Among those that have set climate goals, only one in three stretch beyond 2025, according to the annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report.
Instead, corporate action has focused in the boardroom, with 47 percent of firms rewarding their chief executives for climate performance, and a quarter tying incentives to environmental goals.
European firms now make up half of the CDP’s environmental “A-list” and Steven Tebbe, CDP managing director for Europe, praised climate disclosure’s entry into the financial mainstream.
“The next decade is vital if our shift to a sustainable economy is to be successful, and companies lie at the heart of this transition,” he said.
A-list companies on the STOXX global climate change leaders index outperformed their peers by 5.5 percent per annum this decade, he said.
Although 53 percent of companies surveyed did not yet have climate goals, 58 percent reported carbon cuts last year, amounting to a total reduction of the equivalent of 85 million tonnes of carbon dioxide — as much as Austria’s annual emissions.
One-third of companies reported increased emissions.
One A-listed property management firm, Landsec, has cut its greenhouse gases by 17 percent since 2014 — on the way to a planned 40 percent tail-off by 2030.
“We set what was the first science-based carbon reduction target in real estate, based on what was needed in our sector to ensure the world keeps within 1.5 to 2C of global warming,” said Caroline Hill, Landsec’s head of sustainability.
She said the company drove down energy consumption in London offices and suburban retail parks by upgrading to LED lighting and systematically installing rooftop solar panels.
This year, CDP received climate disclosures from 849 European companies in 23 countries, with combined emissions of about 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide — a total greater than the UK, Germany and France combined.
Campaigners responded angrily to the inclusion on the A-list of fossil fuel firms such as Engie, Naturgy Energy Group SA and Neste Oyj, chemical firms Bayer AG and BASF, and food companies such as Nestle.
“If these companies represent the creme de la creme of environmentally friendly big businesses, then we really are in trouble,” Corporate Europe Observatory spokesman Pascoe Sabido said. “They shouldn’t be celebrated, they should be kept as far away from our policy-makers as possible.”
“We are not claiming these are perfect companies — far from it — but they are really going beyond the consensus and showing leadership in their sectors,” Tebbe said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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