Private companies demonstrate enthusiasm about climate solutions, but significantly trail public counterparts when it comes to reporting greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks
BOSTON, LONDON—May 19, 2022— New research from Bain & Company and CDP, a nonprofit that runs the world’s largest environmental disclosure system, has quantified the environmental transparency gap between public and private companies. The study, Closing the Public-Private Environmental Transparency Gap, shows that while 64% of public companies by market capitalization currently report their environmental impact through CDP, less than 1% of private companies do.
Of the public companies that disclose through CDP, 88% report scope 1 and 2 emissions, while fewer than half of the disclosing private companies do the same. Additionally, 70% of the public cohort and just 29% of private companies report on any category of scope 3 emissions. Scope 1 emissions include any direct emissions owned or controlled by the company, scope 2 covers indirect emissions from purchased electricity and scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions, including in a company's value chain.
The gap also extends to ambition. While 73% of public companies actively set emissions reduction targets, just 37% of the private enterprises do. Larger private companies—those with more than $100 million in revenue—perform somewhat better than smaller companies in this planning function, yet still only 51% of them reported setting any targets. Many private companies cite challenges to better reporting, including resource constraints, capability gaps and a lack of urgency from leadership.
“We are seeing emissions reporting challenges turn into bigger issues for private companies, as increased regulation looms and pressure from investors and consumers intensifies” said Marc Lino, a partner at Bain & Company who leads the firm’s global ESG efforts for its Private Equity practice. “Given this changing landscape, investors are taking Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks seriously. Our recent research with the Institutional Limited Partners Association showed that 93% of private equity investors said they would walk away from a deal if there was an ESG concern.”
Private companies are, however, making progress. A full 88% of private companies say they have appointed someone with responsibility for climate strategy, and 70% have established board-level oversight. Private companies are working to establish a practical roadmap, and while there are still challenges, the ecosystem of support is growing.
“CDP is ideally positioned to pioneer standardized environmental disclosure in private markets, just as we have done in public markets,” said Pratima Divgi, North America director of Capital Markets at CDP. “Investors require decisive data that is consistent, comparable and comprehensive across both public and private markets. To make this possible and support them in setting and meeting their own net-zero ambitions, they expect private companies to fully engage with standards on environmental disclosure and reporting that align to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.”
CDP’s private markets disclosure platform is essential to avoiding “emissions leakage” between asset classes, such as public companies selling high-carbon intense assets to private companies in a bid to avoid scrutiny and transparency. Stark warnings from the latest IPCC report underline the urgency of this work.
Now is the time for private companies to close the climate transparency gap and put efforts into establishing their climate reporting by taking the following steps.
- Developing a carbon baseline to establish a starting point and identify where the company’s biggest sources of carbon emissions come from.
- Establishing a focused plan by laying out both a long-term ambition and a short-term, high-impact set of initiatives to establish momentum and build credibility.
- Communicating the ambition. As with any critical shift in how a company operates, communication and buy-in starts at the top and cascades down through the organization. It’s up to leadership to model a serious commitment to pushing toward net-zero.
- Tracking progress against it. In the spirit of you can’t manage what you can’t measure, reporting and transparency are essential. Establishing a dashboard and metrics to track progress will accelerate change and give the company a means to trumpet success.
For more information or interview requests please contact:
Katie Ware, Bain & Company, tel. +1 646 562 8102, email: [email protected]
Sara Firouzyar, CDP, tel. +44 (0) 2038 183 973, email: [email protected]
About Bain & Company
Bain & Company is a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change makers define the future.
Across 62 cities in 37 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a gold rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 2% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry.
CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 680 investors with over $130 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Over 14,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2021, including more than 13,000 companies worth over 64% of global market capitalization, and over 1,100 cities, states and regions. Fully TCFD aligned, CDP holds the largest environmental database in the world, and CDP scores are widely used to drive investment and procurement decisions towards a zero carbon, sustainable and resilient economy. CDP is a founding member of the Science Based Targets initiative, We Mean Business Coalition, The Investor Agenda and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. Visit cdp.net or follow us @CDP to find out more.