Report: Nearly Half of Fortune 500 Firms Set Carbon Goals

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Growing numbers of major corporates across America are making pledges to reduce their environmental impact and boost their energy efficiency, according to a new report.

The latest Power Forward research, published yesterday by WWF, Ceres, Calvert and CDP, found nearly half of Fortune 500 companies now have targets in place to reduce greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency and/or increase renewable energy sourcing – up five per cent since the last study in 2014.

The report uses data from company disclosures made public to CDP, the investor-backed group that holds the world’s largest database of corporate climate data.

It reveals a significant shift in corporate attitudes is underway across America, according to Marty Spitzer, senior director of climate and renewable energy at WWF. “American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it’s smart business and it’s what their customers want,” he said.

Spitzer insisted that despite the election of Donald Trump the trend would continue. “Clean energy is fueling economic opportunity from coast to coast without regard for party line,” he added. “Washington policies may slow this boom, but these companies are making it very clear that a transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable.”

The report suggests the trend is most pronounced among the largest companies, with 63 per cent of Fortune 100 companies setting climate goals. However, the smallest 100 companies in the Fortune 500 have also displayed a sharp uptick in interest in climate goals, with a 19 per cent increase in the number of firms with green goals since 2013.

Firms are also showing an increasing appetite for more ambitious targets, the report notes, with significant numbers of companies setting 100 per cent renewable energy goals and Science-Based Targets that align corporate policy with global efforts to limit warming to two degrees.

Growing corporate support for clean energy is mainly thanks to a sharp decline in the cost of renewables in recent years, the report noted.

Enthusiasm for target setting is most marked in the ‘Consumer Staples’ sector, with 72 per cent of these firms settings goals compared to just 11 per cent of energy companies.

However, firms are not just embracing climate action for the reputational benefits, the paper insisted. Nearly 80,000 emission-reduction projects from 190 Fortune 500 companies delivered almost $3.7bn in savings for 2016 alone, thanks to lower energy costs and improved efficiencies.