More companies foresee business opportunities that may offset the market risks of climate change, a survey by institutional investors found.
Almost 90 percent of those responding in the survey of 500 of the world’s largest public companies identified “significant opportunities” from climate change, up from 80 percent last year, the Carbon Disclosure Project said in a report today. Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, and Texas Instruments Inc., the U.S. chipmaker, were among those citing new markets for sustainable products and more demand for energy- efficient appliances.
The findings highlight that companies are reluctant to wait for government action to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, said Paul Dickinson, chief executive officer of the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project, which is backed by 534 institutional investors with more than $64 trillion in assets under management. The U.S. Congress failed this year to enact legislation to slow the rise in carbon-dioxide emissions.
“We’re seeing a segregation going on between companies that have a strategy to control costs and to profit from a carbon-constrained world, and other companies -- a lot of them are in the United States -- that are being held back by a government that’s not addressing this issue,” Dickinson said in an interview.
New York Events
The release of the annual report begins a week of climate- related events in New York City, including programs hosted by former President Bill Clinton’s international charities and the opening of the UN General Assembly. Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scheduled to speak today at a presentation of the report.
Companies in the FTSE Global Equity Index Series were asked to disclose their carbon emissions and to demonstrate actions to deal with climate change. Against the backdrop of a global economic decline, the 82 percent response rate shows that “climate change remains on the business agenda,” according to the report.
Almost half of companies surveyed said they are “embedding” climate change and carbon management into their business strategy, and 85 percent reported senior executives had responsibility for climate policy.
Efforts were focused on internal cost savings from using less energy and developing products and services to help customers cut their emissions.
Companies in the U.S. remain focused on sustainable energy even in the absence of government action requiring them to lower carbon emissions, said Bill McDermott, co-CEO of Walldorf, Germany-based SAP AG, the world’s biggest maker of business- management software.
“In a challenging economic scenario where jobs are so important, and you’re in a political cycle now with the mid-term elections coming up, I don’t think too many people on either side of Congress are going to be particularly interested in pushing through cap-and-trade,” McDermott said in an interview, referring to proposals to limit carbon emissions and create a market in pollution allowances. “However, I think you have to also take a longer-term view.”
SAP plans to introduce an enhanced version of software to help companies reduce their energy and carbon emissions, according to the company.
Of the 90 companies that failed to respond to the survey, a “disproportionate number” were from countries with growing emissions, according to the report. Of the non-respondents, 12 are in Hong Kong, eight in China, eight in Russia and four in Singapore.
The report on corporate efforts follows the failure of delegates from 193 nations to reach an international agreement to combat climate change last December in Copenhagen. Talks will resume in Cancun, Mexico, in November.
“Business is anticipating some progress in Cancun,” according to the report. “Increasingly however, companies realize that waiting for greater clarity from policy makers may mean missing the boat on new opportunities, or letting competitors get ahead.”
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