Over 300 companies including AstraZeneca, Danone, Firmenich, HP Inc, KAO Corporation, Klabin S/A, Mars, Symrise AG and Mitsubishi Electric have been named on this year’s A List by environmental non-profit CDP. This is a major increase on last year, despite the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19.
The A List showcases the companies leading on environmental transparency and action, based on their annual disclosure through CDP’s climate change, forests and water security questionnaires. Thousands of companies disclose through CDP at the request of investors and corporate buyers.
This year has seen a major increase (45% up on last year) in the number of companies achieving an A score, with increases across all three themes that CDP assesses. Along with the high levels of disclosure, this shows growing environmental awareness among the business world in 2020.
For climate scores this is largely because more companies are choosing to be transparent by disclosing data – in itself an important step, driven by increased market pressure for transparency. The growth in companies scoring an A for tackling deforestation and water security points to increased action in these areas, as the higher levels of disclosure does not fully account for the increase. Forests is particularly notable as the number of companies on the A List doubled from a low base (16 compared to 8 last year).
The A List companies hail from around the globe, with most coming from Europe (132), Asia (100) and North America (61)
The A List comes just ahead of the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, with world governments expected to deliver updates on their national climate plans to build momentum ahead of COP26. In November, the UK Government was the first G20 government to announce mandatory disclosure, sending a powerful signal to the market and other governments that they should follow the UK’s approach.
The number of companies achieving a triple A across climate, forests and water, the highest rating CDP provides, has also grown to 10, up from 6 last year, the previous record. Symrise AG, Mondi Plc, Fuji Oil Holdings and KAO Corporation are among the new triple A Listers.
Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporations & Supply Chains at CDP, said: “This week marks exactly five years since global leaders shook hands on the Paris Agreement. It’s encouraging that 70% more companies are now reporting on their environmental action than in 2015, and that, this year, over 300 have reached the A List. Congratulations to these leaders – through their action and transparency they are getting ahead of the pack and will seize the benefits as we transition to a net-zero sustainable economy. CDP data shows growing environmental awareness among the business world in 2020, which is hugely positive considering the unprecedented challenges business and society have faced this year. We have the wind in our sails. Now, we need these pioneers to inspire the sluggish majority of corporates if the private sector is to take a leadership role when climate targets ratchet up at COP26 next year. The race is on.”
The A List companies hail from around the globe, with most coming from Europe (132), Asia (100) and North America (61). The top countries for A List headquarters are Japan (66), US (58), UK (21), Germany (19) and France (18). Last year Japan overtook the US and Asia overtook North America for the first time, with this solidifying further this year.
Katarina Ageborg, Chief Sustainability Officer at AstraZeneca, commented: “AstraZeneca is committed to being an integral part of a sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19 and to driving a more resilient approach for the healthcare industry. Environmental crises impact the health of communities around the world every day, so as a healthcare company the challenges brought about by the pandemic have increased, not reduced, the urgency of our environmental action. Recognition on the CDP A List for climate and water for the fifth consecutive year is testament to our continued efforts to address the connection between the health of the planet and healthy people.”
Kevin Rabinovitch, Global VP Sustainability at Mars said: “A transparent, science-based approach is fundamental to Mars' Sustainable in a Generation Plan. Robust, independent assessment by organizations like CDP is helpful to critique corporate progress and promote examples of sustainability leadership. Mars is proud of our efforts to introduce context-based water targets and accelerate efforts to stop deforestation in our global supply chains. Recognition of our progress is very welcome, though we know there is still much to be done.”
Simon Roberts, CEO at Sainsbury’s, said: We are proud to be named on CDP’s A List for Climate Change for a seventh consecutive year, a recognition of gold standard corporate environmental transparency during a critical time. We are committed to taking action on climate change and earlier this year Sainsbury’s pledged to become Net Zero for Greenhouse Gas Emissions in our operations by 2040 and we’ll invest £1 billion over the next 20 years to help us achieve this goal. We recognise that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive lasting change and we believe this can only happen if we work together. Sainsbury’s is committed to collaborating across industries and with academics to make the transformational changes that are vital to mitigate climate change and restore our environment for future generations.
Jakob Askou Bøss, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Stakeholder Relations, at Ørsted said: “We’re delighted to be recognized again in CDP’s A List of companies for significantly reducing our carbon emissions and transparently disclosing climate impacts towards investors. On track to be carbon neutral in 2025, Ørsted aims for a net-zero carbon footprint in 2040. We’re engaging our strategic suppliers, encouraging them to map, disclose and reduce their emissions as well. Understanding the climate impacts in our supply chain is an essential first step towards our 2040 target.”
Eric Rondolat, CEO of Signify added: “We are honored to be on CDP’s Climate A List for the fourth consecutive year. This recognition for our leadership in climate action is especially meaningful for us in the year we successfully complete our Brighter Lives, Better World 2020 program and achieved carbon neutrality. It is more important than ever that we remain committed to combatting climate change. We have placed climate action as an integral part of our strategy and with our Brighter Lives, Better World 2025 program we commit to doubling our positive impact on the environment and society in the next five years. We call on others to join us and step up their ambitions on climate action.”
David Eichberg, Global Head of Climate Strategy at HP Inc said: “HP’s place on CDP’s Climate A List for the 7th year in a row demonstrates our ongoing leadership in transparency and action. We’re especially proud to once again receive a triple A rating from CDP for our work to address climate change, water security and deforestation. In this crucial decade, it’s essential that we go further faster with our employees, suppliers, customers and other partners to meet the challenges at hand.”
Examples of environmental action from the A List companies include:
- Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota has achieved 100% renewable electricity at all its European production plants and four South American plants.
- Indian technology company Tech Mahindra has installed rainwater harvesting systems to decrease dependency on sources of water that are threatened by overuse.
- American food producer Mars has simplified its palm oil supply chain, reducing the number of mills used overall has improved accountability and allowed for satellite tracking to monitor land use for deforestation.
- American apparel company Levi Strauss & Co. is working with designated suppliers to identify and implement renewable energy and water saving interventions across ten countries.
- Global computer giant HP Inc has increased the percentage of its branded paper that is FSC-certified from 3% in 2009 to 100% now and can track product origin to individual mills.
- Japanese company KAO Corporation, which produces consumer goods and chemicals, has introduced internal carbon pricing to promote energy-saving investment.
- German flavors and fragrances company Symrise AG sources 100% RSPO-certified palm oil and offers training and financial incentives to its suppliers.
Around half of the A List (over 150 companies) are either new or returning, demonstrating that concrete environmental action continues apace this year despite 2020’s economic challenges.
While there has been a big increase in the A List this year, it still only represents a minority of companies. Most (74%) of companies scored by CDP achieved D-C scores, meaning they are only just starting their environmental journey and becoming aware of how environmental issues impact their business. Even more concerning, 3,700+ companies failed to disclose any data when requested by investors or customers, and over three times this many received an F for at least one theme. These companies are expected to face increasing pressure to demonstrate they are taking environmental risks seriously.
The market demand for corporate environmental transparency is louder than ever: 515 investors with US$106 trillion in assets, and 150+ large purchasers with US$4 trillion in buying power requested thousands of companies to disclose through CDP in 2020. They use CDP data, including scores, to inform their investment and procurement strategies.
Leading environmental action is correlated with financial success. The A List companies are combined worth almost US$15 trillion in market cap. Further, data from STOXX has shown that the A List has outperformed its reference index by an average of 5.3% per annum over a 7-year period.
Therese Niklasson, Global Head of ESG at Ninety One said: “As supporters of the CDP since 2010, we share their goal to make environmental reporting and risk management a business norm, and to drive disclosure, insight and action towards a sustainable economy. We have worked hard at integrating CDP data into our internal carbon profiling tools to interrogate a more holistic understanding of climate risks and look forward to engaging with several more portfolio companies to encourage them to report and improve standards. CDP has without a doubt been instrumental in driving this critical disclosure effort for the benefit of the industry and ultimately society.”
Samuel Mary, Vice President, ESG Research Analyst at PIMCO added: “PIMCO supports the development of enhanced corporate disclosure regarding strategies to advance the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably ambitious targets linked to climate action, water, biodiversity and forests. We thus see CDP as a key source of data and insights on how corporates respond to these trends and the potential implications of climate change and nature-related risks and opportunities for fixed income investors.”
Peter Truyens, Chief Purchasing Officer at Electrolux said: “As we continue to accelerate our corporate sustainability efforts, we are simultaneously upgrading our portfolio of suppliers by introducing more environmentally smart solutions. Making an impact on operations beyond Electrolux’s immediate control poses challenges but also provides opportunities through close collaboration with our suppliers. Electrolux is working to incorporate additional social and environmental elements, alongside financial and operational parameters, in our supplier business award process. A suppliers’ decision to disclose carbon information can be a clear and motivating starting point of a common, longer term journey”.
The companies are scored based on CDP’s transparent scoring methodology covering: comprehensive disclosure of environmental impacts, risks, opportunities, governance and actions; awareness of environmental risks and how they relate to their business; demonstrating management of these environmental risks and evidence of best practice associated with environmental leadership.