Carbon Disclosure Project unveils FTSE 350 climate leaders

Plaudits for HSBC, Reckitt Benckiser, RBS, Scottish & Southern and Tesco

The Carbon Disclosure Project has named the companies at the forefront of efforts on climate change in the UK’s FTSE 350 index.

The CDP, the initiative backed by 534 investors with a combined $64trn (€46trn) in assets, namechecked HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland, consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser, energy firm Scottish & Southern and supermarket chain Tesco.

According to its latest report, the number of companies in the FTSE 350 responding to the CDP rose to 69% (243 companies) in 2010, from 67% (236) in 2009. This was “impressive given the context of the economic downturn and uncertainty about the future direction of global climate policy”.

The CDP said the response rate and disclosures show that climate change is increasingly embedded in mainstream business.

It also estimated that total emissions disclosed by the FTSE 350 in the year decreased 12% to 3bn metric tonnes of CO2 – while the number of companies disclosing emissions increased to 206 companies from 194.

“A notable change in responses between 2009 and 2010 has been the shift in emphasis from an approachdominated by risk, to one that also embraces potential commercial opportunity,” the CDP said in the 56-page report. It found that 96% of respondents now have responsibility for climate change at the board or other executive level – up from 81% last year. And just over half have integrated climate change into their group business strategy to some extent.

For the first time, all companies with sufficient disclosure received a Carbon Performance Score – a component introduced in response to requests by investors.

Despite the growth in reporing companies, that still leaves 107 who did not respond to the CDP. The largest non-responders by market capitalisation were Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., Kazakhmys, Vedanta, Smith & Nephew, Autonomy, Sage Group, ICAP, Intertek, Petropavlovsk and Alliance Trust.

“This year’s responses to CDP have shown that many companies are on this journey and recognise that carbon is going to be, sooner rather than later, a regular feature on company balance sheets,” said Alan McGill, a partner at report authors PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Earlier this week the CDP said Chief Operating Officer Paul Simpson would take over from Paul Dickinson as CEO. Link