73% of GHG emissions from 10% of firms

7th October 2013

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Just 50 companies are responsible for almost three-quarters of the 3.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by the world's 500 largest-listed firms, according to new data from the CDP

The CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that scope 1 and 2 emissions from the 50 firms, which are mainly in the energy, materials and utility sectors, accounted for 73% of total reported emissions from the 403 global 500 companies responding to its 2013 climate change report.

The research also reveals that the total amount of carbon produced by the 50 companies has risen by 1.65% to 2.54 billion tonnes over the past four years, while the five highest emitting firms from each sector monitored by the CDP have increased their emissions by 2.3% on average since 2009.

Over the same period, total scope 1 and 2 emissions from all participating companies has fallen from 4.2 billion tonnes of carbon equivalent in 2009 to 3.6 billion tonnes in 2013.

The findings also highlight that the majority of firms are failing to report emissions from the most relevant parts of their value chains, with levels of disclosure of significant indirect scope 3 emissions relatively low.

While nearly all companies (97%) disclose scope 1 and 2 emissions from their operations, less than half (47%) can quantify the most important emissions from their value chains.

Just one-quarter of companies report emissions from the “use of sold products” even though product use accounts for 76% of reported scope 3 emissions. By contrast, 72% of companies report emissions from business travel, which accounts for only 0.2% of total reported scope 3 emissions.

The CDP also lists the 97 firms in the global 500 that failed to respond to its request for emissions data. The list contains well-known brands, including Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

Meanwhile, the latest assessment of companies listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) reveals the leading sustainability-driven firms worldwide in 24 industry groups.

Just one UK-based company, energy firm BG Group, formerly part of British Gas, makes the list, though firms with a significant presence in the country, such as Nestlé, which employs 8,000 people across 23 sites in the British Isles, are also identified as leaders.

The DJSI’s corporate sustainability assessment examines a company’s economic, environmental and social practices, including its approach to innovation, supply chain management and climate change adaptation.

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