A new Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) analysis shows that S&P 500 companies are making significant strides in both transparency and progress towards carbon goals when compared to the Global 500.
The results highlight a tipping point in the actions being taken in American C-suites and boardrooms to integrate a sustainability agenda into overall business strategy despite a lack of comprehensive regulatory requirements in the US.
The CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report, co-written by CDP and professional services firm PwC, on behalf of 655 institutional investors representing $78 trillion in assets, provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at America's largest public corporations.
It reveals that the average disclosure score, calculated by CDP to reflect each company's transparency on climate change, has increased by 13% and the average disclosure score required by companies to achieve a position in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) has increased by 11% to 92.
These findings, based on 338 company responses to the investor request for information, provide evidence that more S&P 500 companies are taking actions to mitigate their impact on climate change, in spite of the vacuum created by regulatory and legislative inaction.
Among the S&P 500 92% of the survey respondents reported board or executive-level oversight compared to 86% in 2011 and 25% of respondents disclosed greenhouse gas information in their Annual Reports, up from 18% in 2011.
Globally, according to the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report, this year has seen a 10% increase year-on-year in companies integrating climate change into their business strategies (2012: 78%, 2011: 68%), contributing to a 13.8% reduction in reported corporate greenhouse gas emissions from 3.6 billion metric tons in 2009 to 3.1 billion metric tons in 2012.
The fall is equivalent to closing 227 gas-fired power stations or taking 138 million cars off the road.
CDP's executive chairman Paul Dickinson says: 'The best interests of investors are catalyzing US companies to improve the management of environmental risk, which is vital if we are to forge a more sustainable economy.'
'This report shows us that the powerful American corporation is responding to a growing market demand and increasingly understands that transparency and action on climate change is a business imperative,' he added, noting that failure to act could result in a competitive disadvantage.'