Companies Asked to Get Serious About Climate Change

A new Conference Board Executive Advisory report, “Global Climate Change: Fact or Fiction? It Doesn’t Matter, The Issue is Here to Stay,” warns that regardless of whether scientific evidence is irrefutable, climate change will have a major impact on business and can’t be ignored. A recent CERES/Innovest report concludes that business may be heading into the “eye of a perfect storm that will result from the convergence of several important trends:”

* scientific consensus
* increasingly aggressive government action
* growing shareholder interest

On the shareholder side, they point to three trends. Awareness on the part of mainstream international investment institutions such as AMP Henderson and Friends Ivory & Sime, growing market participation and globalization of pension investment, and growing shareholder activism. Increasing public disclosure requirements reinforce these trends. The bottom line is that financial stakeholders care more than they have in the past about what companies do with respect to climate change, and companys climate change policies influence their investment decisions.

Another reality the report points to is that the global economy will make a transition to a less carbon-intensive economy. The only question is how quickly it will happen and who will be the winners and losers.

As if more confirmation were needed, a group of UK institutional investors with $4 trillion in assets recently sent a letter to the Financial Times Global 500 list. Concerned about the effect of corporate environmental performance on shareowner value, they asked companies to disclose investment-relevant information concerning greenhouse gas emissions.

The companies have six months to respond to the questionnaire, after which the results will be distributed to the corporations, the sponsoring institutions and to the public via its web site in February 2003.

Carbon Disclosure Project: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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