Volkswagen stops reporting to the CDP as emissions scandal worsens

Crisis-hit car giant writes to investor-backed environmental data body

The emissions rigging scandal at Volkswagen, which worsened this week, has prompted the German auto giant to cancel its participation in the CDP, the investor-backed environmental data body.

Founded in 2000, the CDP scores companies according to sustainability metrics like CO2 emissions, water usage, supply chain and forestry preservation. To come up with the scores, the CDP relies on data supplied by more than 5,500 of the world’s largest corporations. The data does not have to be independently certified.

But Responsible Investor has learned that VW recently wrote to the CDP to say it was withdrawing its submissions for 2015. “Due to the allegations relating to emissions from diesel vehicles we wish to refrain from making CDP (CO2 emissions) and WDP (water usage) submissions in 2015,” said Wolfram Thomas, Head of Environment and Energy at VW, in a letter to the CDP. “We can only ask customers, the public and authorities to be given a second chance. We will do everything we can to win back trust step by step.” There was no immediate further comment from the Wolfsburg-based automaker.
VW has been reporting on its CO2 emissions and water usage for several years. According to the CDP’s website, VW in 2010 got a score of 77 out of 100 points, giving it a ‘B.’VW’s CDP score on CO2 emissions improved further in the years after, culminating in a score of 99, yielding an ‘A.’ While the firm provided information on its water usage between 2010 and 2014, the CDP did not assign it any scores.

Asked whether the CDP would amend VW’s top scores given that the company was untruthful about emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and CO2 from its vehicles, spokesperson Penny Cross replied no and cited two reasons. “First we don’t have the internal resources to go back and re-evaluate VW and second I think the user that looks up the scores is very aware of the emissions scandal and will take that into context,” she said.

Cross added that once VW gets the scandal behind it and can repair the damage to its reputation, the CDP would be happy to welcome it back. “We’re an organisation that wants as many companies to disclose as much as they can so we can engage with them. So we would welcome VW coming back,” she said.

The CDP is backed by 822 investors worldwide which have $95trn in assets between them. Just yesterday, the CDP said new pension fund-led “Red Lines” voting guidelines in the UK for asset managers could put company chairs’ jobs at risk for failing to disclose environmental information.