25 April 2017

Nearly 50% of Fortune 500 companies set carbon reduction targets

Almost half of the Fortune 500’s leading U.S. firms have committed to reduce their environmental impact and increase their energy efficiency, according to a new report. 

The new report, “Power Forward 3.0”, from WWF, Calvert Investments, CDP and Ceres found that 48 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have at least one climate or clean energy target – up 5 per cent since 2014.

The findings from the report are based on 2016 company disclosures to CDP, which holds the world's largest collection of self-reported corporate environmental data and other public sources.

According to the report, nearly 80,000 emission-reduction projects from 190 Fortune 500 companies delivered almost $3.7 billion in savings for 2016 alone, due to a combination of lower energy costs and improved efficiencies.

Furthermore, the annual emission reductions from these efforts equate to taking 45 coal-fired power plants offline for an entire year.

The report suggests the trend is most pronounced among the Fortune 500’s largest companies, with 63 per cent of Fortune 100 companies setting climate goals.

Around two dozen companies, including Google, Walmart and Bank of America, have pledged to power their operations with 100 per cent renewable energy.

However, the report also noted that there has been strong improvement among the smallest 100, with 44 per cent setting goals in one or more categories – up 19 per cent from 2013.

Marty Spitzer, Senior Director of Climate and Renewable Energy at WWF, said that the data highlights a significant shift in corporate attitudes across the U.S.

He said: "American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it's smart business and it's what their customers want.”

A growing number of firms are now setting 100 per cent renewable energy targets and Science-Based Targets that align corporate policy with global efforts to keep global warming under 2°C.

The report also shows a diverse spread in target setting among different sectors, with consumer staples (72 per cent), materials (66 per cent) and utilities (65 per cent) sectors leading in setting clean energy goals.

The energy sector – including oil and gas companies – fell significantly behind other industries, with just 11 per cent setting targets.  

The report also set out key recommendations for companies, policymakers and investors to continue to scale clean energy efforts; for example, “federal and state policymakers should establish clear, long-term low-carbon polices that will help companies meet their clean energy targets.”

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