The Carbon Disclosure Project is the world's largest collaboration of institutional investors. It represents 315 global investors-including 30 based in Canada-that have an unprecedented $41 trillion in assets under management. In February, the CDP requested disclosure of relevant information about climate change and carbon risk management strategies from 2,400 companies around the world, including the 200 most valuable companies by market capitalization listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Here are some highlights from the Canadian version of the report (which can be downloaded from here for no charge if you create an account):
Many companies are still unwilling to provide the relevant information to investors:
Only 88 of Canada's 200 largest companies by market capitalization took part in this year's Carbon Disclosure Project questionnaire, a worldwide survey on how business is tackling the issue of climate change.
The participation rate was up 13 per cent, compared with 2006, but remains low by international standards, according to the Conference Board, which administered the survey on behalf of 315 of the world's biggest institutional investors with $41 trillion in assets under management.
Nevertheless, the issue is finally starting to get through, driven by investor interest and the looming introduction, federally and provincially, of new regulatory regimes.
Sixty-four per cent of respondents have a formal GHG emissions management system—either targeting emissions directly, or indirectly through energy efficiency and conservation...
Fifty-three per cent of respondents—and 65 per cent of those in high-carbon emissions impact sectors—indicate that their board of directors has responsibility for climate change. This suggests that climate change is increasingly viewed as both an operational and strategic issue warranting the highest level of oversight.
Government inaction is preventing action on the part of the private sector:
The continued lack of certainty in federal and provincial GHG policy and regulations was often cited as the basis for either not having conducted regulatory impact assessments or the inability to speculate on potential business implications.
In Alberta, for instance:
The province of Alberta estimates that, with its 12 per cent annual emissions intensity reduction target, the annual cost of compliance to industrial emitters sits at $177,000,000.
However... The newness of the regulation, the need to audit and identify baseline emissions, and continued uncertainty about some details of the plan were cited in company
responses as reasons for difficulty in speculating on the impact of increased regulation. For example, Nexen indicates in their CDP5 response that they have stopped running scenarios of the cost of compliance as the uncertainty range is too large.
You have to take your good news where you can find it, and it is abundantly clear from the very existence of the CDP that investors are beginning to demand of the corporate sector what governments are afraid to: accountability and action. In fact I think the sight of a Bush or a Harper on t.v. and dodging commitments can give an unduly negative impression. Offstage, the Greening of Capitalism proceeds apace.