Report shows corporate carbon pricing fast becoming the norm in utility and energy sectors
The number of global companies putting an internal price on carbon emissions - or planning to, and willing to say so - has risen by 23 percent from last year, bringing the figure to 1,249 businesses.
Of these, the Utilities and Energy sectors have the highest proportion, with 63 percent and 52 percent respectively. But the numbers are rising across sectors - Telecommunication Services is now 40 percent, Materials 35 percent, Financials 31 percent and Information Technology 25 percent. Investors take note: it seems companies are planning ahead for a time when they are made to pay for their emissions in a world that is cognizant of climate change.
CDP, a not-for-profit that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts, has a report just out on carbon pricing with some very big company names in it. Of the 5,759 companies that responded to its 2016 climate change and supply chain information requests, one in five (1,249) disclosed that they internalize a carbon price now, or plan to do so in the next two years.
Geographically, the rise in disclosure is most evident in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, and the United States, says CDP. “It is still too early to tell whether these changes come as a result of corporate reactions to the Paris Agreement, price signals from national policies, or whether they are indicative of a new corporate norm,” says the report.
But the number of U.S. companies reporting the use of an internal carbon price continues to increase year-on-year, it says. “In 2014 only 29 companies reported using an internal carbon price; today 80 are pricing, with an additional 130 planning to implement one within two years,” says the report.
Among those U.S. companies already carbon pricing in energy are: Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK), DTE Energy Co (NYSE:DTE), Ameren Corp (NYSE:AEE) and Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE). Looking at Consumer Staples, it is easy to spot Colgate Palmolive (NYSE:CL) and Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB).
Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) loom large as names among the American Consumer and Discretionary companies already pricing in carbon. In Healthcare, there is Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) and Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB).
Among industrials, Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) are named in the report as pricing carbon. US Information Technology companies include Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) , Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE).
Among financials, BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) feature, and those in the sector that anticipate using an internal price on carbon in next few years include JP Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).
Finally, U.S. companies pricing in carbon in the Materials sector feature Monsanto (NYSE:MON) and more – the sheer range of sectors speaks volumes for corporate concern on this issue.
The report reveals that less than a third of the companies disclosing their plans to CDP identified the actual prices they were using. But it provides case studies on how companies are dealing with the issue.
“For the first time, companies reported seeing a direct link between pricing of carbon emissions and the delivery of a tangible change,” it says.
A group of 37 companies already report actual impacts on their business as a result of adopting an internal carbon price, it reveals. “For example, some companies disclosed an internal carbon price affecting budget allocations or the creation of a new business function. It also impacted investments, shifting capital towards energy efficiency measures, low-carbon initiatives, energy purchases, and product offerings,” it says.
This “signifies a rising awareness that corporate carbon pricing can drive activities and investments that directly support the execution of climate targets” says CDP.
Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website http://www.dinamedland.com