Singapore-listed companies have made notable progress in disclosing climate-related information on their business activities since the Singapore Exchange mandated such disclosures on a “comply or explain” basis.
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of SGX-listed companies have started their climate reporting efforts but only a tenth have had such reports independently audited. These are among the key findings of a study by professional services organisation, Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and supported by global accountancy body, CPA Australia.
The study aimed to provide insights into the current state of climate reporting in Singapore, after the SGX required Singapore-listed companies to include such information in their sustainability reports from financial year 2022 based on recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The study analyzed data from 370 Singapore-listed companies with financial year-end on 31 December 2022, and whose sustainability reports were published by 31 May 2023.
The study revealed that of the 370 companies that issued their sustainability reports, 240 have commenced on climate-related disclosures. Specifically, many in sectors mandated for reporting in FY2023, e.g., the agriculture, food and forest products (77 per cent); energy (88 per cent); and financial (75 per cent) industries began climate-related disclosures reporting in FY2022.
However, one-third (130) of the 370 companies that issued their sustainability reports have yet to make climate-related disclosures, with over half (54 per cent) looking to comply in the future and the remaining (46 per cent) not mentioning any plans to comply.
Ken Ong, Partner, Assurance at Ernst & Young LLP says: “The disclosure of climate-related information is a crucial step toward enhancing transparency in Singapore’s business landscape. It is encouraging to see a significant level of adoption by companies that have started their climate reporting journey. As seen in a recent public consultation for mandatory climate reporting from financial year 2025 for all listed companies and from financial year 2027 for qualifying large non-listed companies, Singapore regulators are keen to encourage companies to report on climate-related disclosures, which can enhance transparency and help businesses align sustainability practices with financial outcomes.”
For companies whose sustainability reports included climate-related disclosures, the study found that only 10 per cent sought external assurance, with just three companies incorporating climate-related disclosures as part of their external assurance review process.
Ong adds: “Beyond regulatory requirements, assurance provides confidence to stakeholders, such as regulators, investors and customers, that there are processes in place to manage critical sustainability matters and address any concerns about greenwashing.”
Predominant focus on climate-related risks, gap in addressing climate-related opportunities, quantifiable targets and future impact
Of the listed companies with sustainability reports that included climate-related disclosures, a significant majority (79 per cent) were focused on climate-related risks to their business, and less than half (47 per cent) have outlined climate-related opportunities. This imbalance raises concerns given the multifaceted nature of climate change, which embodies both risks and opportunities. Companies should seek to identify key material climate-related risks as well as opportunities specific to their operations and their potential impact over the medium and long term.
The study also revealed that the majority (66 per cent) provided high-level observations on the potential impact of climate risks and opportunities, and few quantified and disclosed the range of financial impact. Clarity on the quantum of risks and opportunities is necessary for companies to consider appropriate strategic responses.
As a result, climate change risks and opportunities are not yet fully integrated into the corporate budgeting and strategic planning processes. There is also a lack of specific metrics used to identify risks and opportunities – especially physical risks. The study found that while 92 per cent of companies have set some metrics on water, energy, emission, land use and waste management, they have not set quantifiable targets.
Additionally, the study found that two-thirds (68 per cent) of those companies with climate-related disclosures have not started scenario analysis on the impact of climate change on their operations. Performing scenario analysis can help companies identify potential opportunities. This allows companies to evaluate and make strategic decisions about how to expand or transform their business in ways that contribute positively to climate action.
Praveen Tekchandani, Partner, Climate Change and Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young LLP says: “Scenario analysis is important as it helps companies evaluate and quantify potential climate-related risks and opportunities under various scenarios. By developing different future scenarios, companies can consider various pathways and their implications for the business. This can help companies gain a comprehensive understanding of the risks and opportunities associated with climate change, which can then be used to develop targeted risk management measures for material climate-related risks and formulate strategies to leverage potential climate-related opportunities.”
Chng Lay Chew, a councillor of CPA Australia’s Singapore Division and a member of its ESG Committee, concludes: “Climate reporting is crucial for companies. Beyond just compliance, it signifies their commitment to sustainability, enhances their brand, and promotes innovation. Through the work performed on climate disclosures, companies will understand how to better manage their risks and leverage new opportunities. Accounting and finance professionals have the skill sets to play key roles in climate reporting. They can ensure accurate measurement and reliable reporting, which, in turn, provides companies with a competitive edge that contributes to their long-term sustainable success.”
The report suggests five areas for companies to improve their climate disclosures for future reporting:
- Engage proactively with stakeholders in preparation for new climate reporting requirements
- Strengthen the understanding and assessment of climate risks, and explore climate-related opportunities for long-term resilience
- Leverage scenario analysis to better assess climate-related risks and opportunities
- Incorporate climate change considerations into budgeting and strategic planning
- Set meaningful quantitative targets and track performance
For the full report, please click here.