Amazon, Facebook, Tesla and Berkshire Hathaway are failing to report data on climate change to their shareholders, according to a coalition of heavyweight investors, which is demanding that 1,320 companies should make clearer disclosures about environmental risks.
Fears that climate change will result in catastrophic environmental damage are fuelling demands by institutional investors and regulators for companies to accelerate their efforts to reach the goal of a net zero carbon emissions economy.
Ahead of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow scheduled for November, 168 asset managers and financial institutions from 28 countries, which together represent more than $17tn in combined assets, have signed up to support the Carbon Disclosure Project’s campaign to ensure that data on climate change, deforestation and water usage are properly reported by companies.
More than 4,700 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to be produced by the 1,320 targeted companies, more than the entire EU, according to CDP.
Emily Kreps, global director of capital markets at CDP, said the tide was turning against companies that were not responding to investor demands for better disclosures of environmental risks.
“This year’s campaign against non-disclosure has achieved record levels of support with a 56 per cent increase in investor participation. Investors require data that is consistent, comparable and comprehensive to help them to meet their own net-zero ambitions,” said Kreps.
US regulators are engaged in a fierce debate over whether to impose formal disclosure requirements for environmental, social and governance metrics on US companies.
Amazon and Facebook signed a letter this month to the Securities and Exchange Commission stating that they supported “regular and consistent reporting of climate-related matters”, while also urging the US regulator to allow ESG data to be published separately from company main financial reports to avoid possible legal problems.
“Mandatory ESG disclosure is an essential planning tool that can help to establish regulatory certainty and a level playing field,” said Paula DiPerna, special adviser to CDP North America.
Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer, Chipotle Mexican Grill, the US burrito chain and the US homebuilder Lennar are among 73 laggards that provide inadequate disclosures on all three of the environmental topics highlighted by CDP.
Demands for improved disclosures have also been directed to 122 Chinese companies including ecommerce group Alibaba, Kweichow Moutai, the distiller and Meituan Dianping, China’s biggest food delivery app.
Environmental disclosure standards are showing signs of improvement as a result of pressure from large investors. The campaign co-ordinated last year by CDP led to 206 companies responding to disclosure requests by investors, up from 97 in 2019.
But the financial sector must do more to help achieve the goal of a net zero carbon economy with fewer than half of banks, asset managers and insurers taking steps to ensure their investment portfolios are aligned with limits to rises in global temperatures, according to CDP.
Amundi, Aviva, Cathay Financial, HSBC Global Asset Management, Legal & General, Nuveen and Schroders have pledged support for the CDP campaign.