Six growing trends in corporate sustainability

Trend 4: Despite regulatory uncertainty, greenhouse gas reporting remains strong, with growing interest in water

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Many are pressing suppliers and trading partners to report and reduce their emissions.

Climate change has become a strategic concern at many companies, despite a lack of US regulatory requirements to measure, manage or report emissions.

Three-fourths of respondents have set greenhouse gas reduction goals; 60% report these publicly. Seventy-six percent publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions; another 16% said they plan to do so within five years.

Company interest in the greenhouse gas emissions of their operations and supply chains is driven less by regulatory concern than by three other factors:

  • Reputation management
  • Customer expectations
  • Efficiency goals

Reputation issues arise when independent organizations rate or rank companies on climate emissions and goals, either separately or as part of a larger corporate rating or ranking scheme.

Many companies recognize that greenhouse gas emissions are a form of waste — a byproduct that has no value to the company or its customers, a proxy for inefficiency. In that light, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an efficiency measure. Moreover, emissions are increasingly seen as a risk factor — a liability to a company and its shareholders should public and political climate concerns rekindle.

Interest in reporting on water is also on the rise, especially in water-intensive industries such as metals and mining, oil and gas, chemicals, agriculture, power and utilities, and food and beverage. Sixty-two percent of respondents publicly report their water usage. About one in six of those have their “water footprint” verified by an independent third party; 22% said they plan to do so within five years.

In its 2011 Water Disclosure Global Report, the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project found that more companies view water issues as a business opportunity (63%) than a risk (59%). The opportunities range from the savings realized by using less water to potential new products and services.

Nearly 80% see those opportunities affecting business in the next five years.

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