2018 has been the year that companies, cities, states and regions, so called “non-state actors” have paved the way on climate and environmental action.
Under the banner of the Talanoa Dialogue, local governments and corporate leaders have come together with national policymakers to assess whether the world is on track to meet the long-term climate goals agreed in Paris.
And where national action has fallen behind, for example in the US under the Trump Administration, those non-state actors have filled the void. Just this week Governor Jerry Brown of California has introduced two new laws: SB100, committing California to zero-carbon electricity by 2045; and EO B-55-18 mandating carbon neutrality by the same year.
Around the world we have seen companies taking on ambitious low-carbon goals, increasing board oversight of environmental issues, and committing to remove deforestation from their supply chains; just the latest signs that they understand the urgency of the challenge that we face.
While national governments are vital to the transition, it is through collective action and collaboration with these non-state actors that we will reach the pace and scale needed to truly build a sustainable economy.
The Global Climate Action Summit
It is against this backdrop that we are in California for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS).
The first-of-its-kind summit – announced in the wake of Trump’s plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement – GCAS aims to bring together state and local government, business, investors and citizens from around the world to celebrate positive action, and spur increased ambition. As CDP’s data has shown, we are picking up the pace on climate action, and GCAS is set to be an important moment on this journey.
The Universal Disclosure Challenge
At CDP, we believe that disclosure is the foundation for a sustainable economy.
And as companies, investors, cities, states and region move towards taking collaborative action, they too see disclosure as the bedrock, providing data for assessing risks, opportunities and progress and increasing governance of these critical challenges. .
In June this year, California Governor Jerry Brown – one of the co-chairs of GCAS – set a goal, through his Universal Climate Disclosure Challenge for some 300 new companies, cities, states and regions to disclosure their carbon emissions before the summit.
I am excited that, today, I can announce that companies, cities, states and regions have stepped up this year. CDP has seen over 1,300 new companies, cities, states and regions, spanning 60 countries, take part in our annual climate change disclosure cycle.
The rise of disclosure
That’s nearly 145 more cities, 1200 more companies and 40 more states and regions now measuring and truly understanding their climate change risks and opportunities.
Cities disclosing for the first time include Gretna Louisiana in the US, Commune de Tsévié in Togo, Roskilde in Denmark and Guarujá in Brazil.
When it comes to corporations disclosing for the first time this year, the US leads the pack with 240 companies. Coming from a wide range of sectors, US disclosers include real estate investment trusts Digital Realty Trust and SL Green Realty, gas and electric utility holding company Southern Company, and Dominion Energy, the seventh largest publicly traded utility in the world. Alongside this there are 180 companies from China.
Other companies disclosing for the first time include Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd, German lighting company OSRAM Licht AG, Australian mineral resource company Orocobre and Chinese branded sportswear company Anta Sports Products.
And companies aren’t just stepping up on climate change disclosure. We also seen 173 new companies disclose their impacts on forests for the first time – including Asian Agri, one of Asia's largest palm oil producers – and more than 70 reporting on water.
Disclosure: the start of the journey
With disclosure as the foundation, we are also seeing unprecedented action.
Research has shown that companies that measure their emissions through CDP achieve greater reductions over time. Just 38% of suppliers responding to CDP for the first time have emissions reductions targets. By the time they respond for the third time, some 69% of companies have set emission reduction goals.
The same is seen across our other questionnaires. While only 28% of first time water disclosers have assessed the business growth implications of water security, this rises to 40% in year three.
There has been a surge in global business embracing climate science to navigate the low-carbon transition. It was announced at GCAS today that over 130 new corporates have made science-based emissions reduction commitments since start of 2018, a 39% increase from the previous year, bringing the total to almost 500 companies worldwide.
Investors continue to make efforts to re-allocate investments towards low-carbon and reducing, or removing, investment in fossil fuels.
Also announced at GCAS this week was the launch of ‘The Investor Agenda’. Bringing together the actions of nearly 400 investors with US$32 trillion in funds collectively under management, the first-of-its-kind global agenda will showcase and accelerate the scale of collective, investor-led climate action, while providing investors with a mechanism to report their progress.
Building the sustainable economy of the future
At CDP we see firsthand, every day, the steps that companies, investors, cities, states and regions are taking to build a truly sustainable economy for both people and planet, and we expect GCAS to catalyse further progress.
It will provide yet more proof that this transition is underway, and that it is unstoppable.
But as the world continues to move along the low-carbon transition, transparency and accountability will be essential to ensure we stay on track and continue to build ambition.
The more steps we take together, and the faster we take them the quicker we will build this global transition.
The first step is disclosure.
In addition to those mentioned above, other first time disclosing companies include:
- US: managed health care company Aetna Inc
- Japan: convenience store company Family Mart Uny holdings Co. Ltd.; conglomerate Japan Post Holdings; and Japan Real Estate Investment Corporation.
- Spain: gas company CRINGAS S.L.
- New Zealand: power company Contact Energy; and power distributor Vector Limited.
- Australia: health insurance company nib health funds
- China: hygiene company Hengan International Group; and commercial retail bank Postal Savings Bank of China.
- Hong Kong: footwear manufacturer Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings
- Singapore: multinational banking organization United Overseas Bank; and environmental services company Sustainable Asset Management Solutions.