Following the hottest US summer on record, fires in Russia and flooding in the UK, Japan and Thailand, extreme weather events are pushing climate change up the corporate agenda, according to the latest survey of leading companies by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
Its 2012 Global 500 climate change report finds that 81% of companies polled now identify physical risk from climate change, with 37% perceiving these risks as a real and present danger – up from just 10% in 2010.
“Extreme weather events are causing significant financial damage to markets,” said Paul Simpson, the CDP’s chief executive. “Investors therefore expect corporations to think more about climate resilience.”
More than three-quarters (78%) of firms confirm that climate change has been integrated into their wider business strategy – 10% more than last year and 30% more than in 2010.
Overall, reported corporate greenhouse-gas emissions are down 13.8%, from 3.6 billion tonnes in 2009 as the financial slowdown began to take hold, to 3.1 billion tonnes in 2012. One-third of companies (31%), however, reported no emissions reductions at all.
Meanwhile, a global survey by Deloitte finds that chief financial officers (CFOs) are increasingly involved in driving the sustainability efforts of their organisations.
Of the 250 CFOs polled, two-thirds say they play a role in embedding sustainability strategies, and more than half say their involvement has increased in the past year. Also, the proportion of CFOs and chief operating officers now accountable to their company’s boards for sustainability has nearly doubled over the past 12 months, from 20% to 36%.
“Companies are sitting up and taking notice that sustainability is not just a brand or a corporate responsibility element – it is becoming a key driver of financial performance and the future of business,” says Dave Pearson, sustainability leader at Deloitte.