Half of European companies have no carbon reduction plan despite admitting climate change risks, report finds

More than half of European companies have no carbon reduction targets in place despite 75 percent of those surveyed believing their business will be meaningfully affected by climate change, a report said Tuesday.

In its annual report, non-profit firm CDP analyzed environmental disclosures from 859 companies. It found that 53 percent still had no targets for their total emissions, and only a third of those that did had strategies which extended beyond 2025.

CDP also recognized 76 European companies as pioneers for global action, including L’Oreal, Unilever, Bayer, and ING. The CDP, previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, has energy information on more than 570 cities worldwide.

Meanwhile, investment funds from BNP Paribas, Candriam and Banque Postale were praised for their climate performance, as the analysis found that 46 percent of the funds’ top company holdings had been put on CDP’s “A-List” of best performers.

French businesses led European action on environmental sustainability according to the report, with 70 percent of the region’s most climate-friendly investment funds and a third of its best-rated companies based in France.

Financial rewards

Financial incentives were among the strategies being used by firms to ensure their carbon policies were delivered. The report said that 47 percent of companies in Europe were offering senior management monetary rewards tied to climate targets.

As well as business risks arising from climate change, 90 percent of companies included in the study said it presented opportunities. Almost half of businesses expected increased demand for low-carbon goods.

European companies reported reductions in greenhouse gas emissions last year that equalled Austria’s annual emissions, as the number of companies with science-backed targets to lower their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement increased by 65 percent.

‘Missing link’

Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president for the euro and social dialogue at the European Commission, said in the report that the “next decade will be decisive for the fate of this planet.”

“To reach our Paris climate goals, we need trillions of euros to scale up renewable energy, develop options for storing surplus energy, and decarbonise other parts of the economy,” he said. “The public sector alone cannot fill this funding gap, so the private sector will have to step up its investments. This is why the financial sector is the missing link in the fight against climate change.”

Tom Delay CBE, chief executive at sustainability consultancy the Carbon Trust, added: “While some leaders are showing the way forward, many others are only just starting to take their first steps on the journey or moving too slowly along the pathway to sustainability. Others must follow rapidly in the footsteps of those leaders if we are to tackle one of the most urgent global challenges we face today.”