CDP to begin charging large investors to access environmental data

Investor backed-body to charge $975 annual administration fee

The CDP, the investor-backed environmental data body formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, will begin charging large investors to access its data.
The decision follows the introduction earlier this year of a $975 (€873) annual administration fee for companies wishing to disclose through the UK-based charity’s platform. The fee – for investors with more than $1bn in assets under management – will be the same, and will apply to all investors outside India.
The CDP, which collects climate, water and forestry information from listed companies, has been free to use for investors and corporates since its launch 15 years ago, but Simpson explained that as disclosure has become more sophisticated and mainstream, it is necessary for participants to contribute towards the cost of processing the data and making it useable.

The CDP, which operates on behalf of 822 investors worth a combined $95trn, says the move to charge for use will create “an important new source” of income — which it conservatively estimates will be £0.6m (€667,000).

The CDP has always charged data firms including Trucost, Sustainalytics and South Pole, which use its information to underpin some of their analysis and services. It made around £300,000 from this, according to its most recent accounts.

It also has around 50 investor “partners” who pay to support the charity’s work and to receive more tailored data packages to enable better analysis.

It comes as a group of Swedish investors and companies met last month to discuss the value of CDP data.
According to market participants, Swedish state funds AP2 and AP4 – along with industrial groups Volvo Group and SKF – coordinated a workshop with a series of other investors.
The agenda included discussions about “Companies’ view on CDP reporting”, “what climate data do companies regard as important in order to describe their companies”, and “an investor view on CDP data: what climate data is essential for investors”. AP2 and AP4 are understood to have drafted a document on investors’ needs, which it planned to circulate to attendees ahead of the meeting.AP2 and AP4 declined to comment on whether a meeting had taken place. Volvo Group confirmed that members of its CSR team participated in “an initial meeting” with Swedish investors and companies, but said “there was not much more to elaborate on”. RI understands that CDP was not invited to attend the discussions.

Simpson said the CDP was “aware of their conversations” and that it was meeting with the coalition to discuss the feedback. “But this is normal for us”, he added, saying dialogue was welcome.
Alongside changes to its fee structure, CDP has launched a sector-focused investor strategy. It will expand its work on specific sectors – which currently centres around its regular reports, the latest of which is out today link – to include tailored disclosure questionnaires, addressing the risks and opportunities facing particular sectors. The new format is expected to be introduced towards the end of next year, and seeks to enable investors to make better peer-to-peer comparisons, help companies assess their performance in relation to similar firms and put the CDP’s disclosure process in line with the Financial Stability Board’s Michael Bloomberg-led Task Force on Climate Related Disclosure.
The Task Force is understood to be looking into what different sectors should disclose, and how this should be done, as part of its guidelines which will be published early next year. Simpson told RI the new questionnaires would be informed by the guidelines, as well as investor feedback.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re the best partner for the Task Force’s work,” the CDP said.
It is not yet clear whether the Task Force will specify the means through which investors and companies should disclose climate-related information. Its current members include representatives from the Principles for Responsible Investment – which has a disclosure platform for investors – the US Securities and Exchange Commission, data giant Bloomberg, and stock exchanges.