Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Climate change hits top of corporate agenda
Article Type: Feature From: Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, Volume 19, Issue 4
The issue of climate change has made it to the top of the corporate big wheel, with 87 per cent of non-financial reports from Global FT500 companies reporting on the issue, according to a report from CorporateRegister.com. “Corporate Climate Communications” is the first study to assess global leading companies’ communications on climate change, as opposed to their carbon performance. During 2007, two-thirds of the Global FT500 issued a stand-alone non-financial report. Evaluating these, the study reveals that 87 per cent address climate change, with 78 per cent publishing greenhouse gas emissions data.
According to the study, the world’s largest companies are voluntarily disclosing valuable information on climate change issues, including quantified, verified data and specific targets. The era of wholesale corporate climate change denial is over: one may now be witnessing the beginnings of corporate climate activism. With so many companies now disclosing such information, issues of credibility and accountability come to the forefront. Only one in ten North American reporters provide external assurance with their climate change disclosures, compared with three in five European reporters. The average among Global FT500 reporters is 44 per cent, evidence of a marked commitment to disclosing robust, credible climate change information.
A trend that is becoming clearer is that companies seem to want to communicate to their stakeholders what they are doing to address their environmental and social responsibility. The question on everyone’s mind, however, is “how can I trust you?” Independent third-party assurance is an important way to respond to stakeholder concerns over credibility, especially with regard to climate change and emissions data.