Friday, 14 September 2012

CDP survey report – all is not well in the IT industry

CDP logoThe Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has released its Global 500 Climate Change Report 2012. It shows that while top IT companies are among the best at responding to the CDP’s survey, they’re not doing so well in action against climate change.

The CDP collects information about corporate behaviour on climate change and water scarcity, on behalf of shareholders and purchasing corporations. It’s supported by 655 investors with assets of $78 trillion. The results are available through a database of company responses and a number of reports analysing the data.

Climate change remains high on the board’s agenda with 96% of respondents reporting that there is board member involvement, and most companies have now included climate change into their wider business strategy (78%, up from 68% in 2011).

The reasons are fairly clear. A high proportion (81%) report physical risks from extreme weather impacting the company’s operations, supply chains and business planning. Companies are also aware that acting on climate change can
result in benefits beyond short-term financial returns. Over two thirds (68%) of respondents note opportunities from changes in customer behaviour or enhancing their own reputations.

The report looks at responses by industry sector, which shows that:

  • imageThe response rate to the CDP survey by IT companies was high (90%). This is the second highest behind Consumer Staples. The telecoms industry response rate was just 70%

  • However, 16% of the IT industry disclosures were private, so the data is not made public. Only the Industrial Sector was more secretive - 18% private responses.

  • IT companies do relatively poorly in terms of board-level oversight of their emissions reduction targets. Senior managers (rather than board members) play more of a role than in almost all other industries.

  • Similarly, for IT companies climate change is less likely to be integrated into overall business strategy – just 70%. Only the healthcare industry was worse.

  • Only 48% of IT respondents disclosed absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets, although 58% gave intensity targets, e.g. emissions per unit of revenue.

In terms of the best performing IT companies, Nokia was deemed the best IT industry respondent in terms of disclosure and performance, seventh in the overall rankings for all companies.

At the other end of the scale, four IT industry companies simply did not respond to the CDP’s request for information. They were  Apple, ASML Holding, Nintendo and Tencent Holdings.


Review:  It’s disappointing to see the IT industry not performing better.

Once again Apple excels, but not in a good way. It’s hard to understand how such a successful company can feel that there’s no need to take part in such an open and honest analysis of corporate climate change action. Worse is that it sets such a bad example to other players.

All I would point out is that Samsung did take part and achieved a very creditable score from the CDP for its climate change action disclosure and performance. If I was marketing for Apple I would be concerned.

© The Green IT Review

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