Business leaders vital to cutting carbon

18th July 2011


Leaders

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IEMA

Board-level representation is essential for progress in environmental sustainability, according to new research from the Carbon Trust

In a survey of FTSE 100 companies, the Trust found that only 59 have clear, robust targets to cut carbon emissions, and that just eight firms can be described as “leaders”.

It says carbon reduction targets should be precise, accurately measured, stretching and aspirational, and appropriate for the sector. British Land, BSkyB, BT, Diageo, Kingfisher, M&S, Tesco and Unilever all have high-quality targets measured against these criteria, found the trust.

These companies regard stretching environmental goals as a catalyst to generate longer-term returns to the bottom line and share price. British Land told the trust that its targets enable the firm to develop strategies that provide it with lasting business benefits and competitive advantage, while Diageo reports that its targets are designed to drive business value.

The trust says that as well as setting ambitious targets, leading companies are also seeking to exploit revenue-generating opportunities from the low-carbon economy. It reports that Kingfisher, which trades as B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, has increased its sales of independently verified “eco products” to £1.1 billion, and that these sales now account for 10.5% of total retail sales across the company.

Kingfisher is one of 15 companies to achieve Platinum Plus status in the latest Business in the Community (BitC) corporate responsibility (CR) Index. The company scored 97% in the 2011 index, up from 95% the previous year. “Kingfisher has created a vision and strategy that is clearly articulated by the senior management team and convincingly describes an evolution in the company’s market positioning which will drive a number of environmental and social benefits,” reports BitC.

Companies achieving the highest ranking in the index must demonstrate business strategies that are underpinned by thinking around long-term sustainability. The Platinum Plus group also includes Anglian Water, EDF Energy, Heineken UK, KPMG and Wates.

Thirty companies – ranging from Alliance Boots to WH Smith – were rated as Platinum for demonstrating that CR is embedded in strategic decision-making and incentive structures. A further 34 firms were ranked in the Gold category for displaying a high level of transparency by publicly reporting CR performance.

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