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Low carbon companies outperform, says CDP

Companies that implement policies to reduce carbon emissions perform better on the stock market compared with those that do not, a survey suggests.

The annual Carbon Disclosure Project also found that, for the first time, the majority of the world’s largest corporations incorporate climate change action in their business strategies.

Philips Electronics and carmakers BMW and Honda performed particularly well.

Amazon and Apple were among the firms that did not disclose information.

The report, written by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, analysed data provided by 396 of the world’s biggest listed companies, and found climate change was central to the business plans of 68% of the respondents, up from 48% last year.

There was also a big increase in the number of companies reporting reduced greenhouse gas emissions - 45% compared with 19% a year earlier.

Short payback

“The improved financial performance of companies with high carbon performance is a clear indicator that it makes good business sense to manage and reduce carbon emissions,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive of the CDP.

“This is a win win for business - the short-term return on investments many emissions reducing activities have can help increase profitability.”

Almost 60% of reported actions to reduce emissions saw a payback of three years or less, the survey found.

Ranking companies in terms of the amount of information they disclosed and their performance in cutting carbon emissions, Philips, BMW and Honda took the top three places.

Retailer Tesco, financial firms Bank of America and Westpac, healthcare group Bayer and technology companies Cisco, SAP and Sony made up the rest of the top 10.

Utilities was the best performing sector in terms of climate change performance, with the energy sector performing poorly.

Other companies that did not respond to the survey include energy group Rosneft, Warren Buffett’s investment group Berkshire Hathaway and Bank of China.

Cutting costs

An increasing number of companies are not only realising the benefits of reducing their carbon emissions, but are looking to incorporate the cost and benefits of their environmental impact into their financial accounts.

Earlier this year, sportswear group Puma became the world’s first major corporation to publish details of the cost of its impact on the environment, and other will soon follow.

Driving this move is the understanding that companies can not only cut costs and improve their reputation by reducing their impact on the environment, but also mitigate against future costs in the form of regulatory instruments such as pollution taxes and higher insurance premiums.

Those companies that are taking action to reduce their impact now believe they can gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.

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