01 Jan 1970 Blogpost Air

Are GHG emissions from the Global 500 a source for optimism?

Many greenhouse gases (GHG) occur naturally in the atmosphere – such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and nitrous oxide – while others are man made. Regardless of origin, put really simply, these gasses trap heat, warm up the atmosphere and affect climate change.

To protect our future it is essential that we monitor and hold each other accountable to commitments to reduce emissions.  Transparency is key to informed decision-making. That’s why Thomson Reuters regularly reports on the GHG emissions of the world’s 500 largest businesses. Yesterday we released the latest Global 500 Greenhouse Gases Performance Report.

This is the fourth report of its kind, authored in collaboration with BSD Consulting, a global sustainability consultancy, and for the first time it shows that the Global 500 are beginning to reduce their GHG emissions at a rate that follows the global scientific consensus on the risks of climate change.

This move demonstrates that sustainable business growth is becoming a top priority and focal point for many organizations.

Limiting environmental impact is no longer just about doing the ‘right’ thing.  Organizations recognize sustainable business growth is central to mitigating risk and driving top and bottom line performance and this is great news for all of us.

The data in the report itself provides a possible catalyst for investors, regulators, consumers and stakeholders of all stripes to begin to ask key questions about the viability of a business going into a post COP21 world.  The following three questions will help with that assessment:

  1. Is the business, whatever it is, operating in a manner which is consistent with IPCC guidance on reducing emissions over time?  The latest models suggest decreasing an average of 1.4% per year, starting from 2010 and going to 2050, in order to keep warming under 2 degrees centigrade.
  2. If the answer is yes, then ask about the plan to keep doing so.  Is it about technological innovation, divestment, business model transformation etc..?
  3. If the answer is no, then ask: Is there a plan to reconsider in light of steadily increasing transparency around performance, and stakeholder scrutiny for business as usual?

The planet’s climate is fundamentally changing. We still have a long way to go but the signs are good that the Global 500 is now taking on the challenge and defining its role in that change.