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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Going the Wrong Way, Study of S&P 100 Firms Shows

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One day before the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day, indications are that many of America’s public companies may not be doing all they can for the environment.

A report released on April 21 by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) showed that rather than reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in the U.S. the level has actually been increasing slightly. President Obama has targeted an annual reduction of 1.05% in greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve an absolute reduction in emissions of 17% by 2020, measured against a 2005 baseline. Rather than moving toward that goal, the CDP study of information collected from S&P 100 companies for the years 2007-2009 found that greenhouse gas emissions will, at their current trajectory, produce a 3.66% absolute increase in emissions by 2020, relative to 2009 levels. While some sectors have reduced their emissions over the past three years, total emissions reported to CDP from S&P 100 companies increased at a rate of 0.36% and as the economy recovers, growth in absolute emissions is likely to increase further.

The four heaviest emitting sectors–utilities, energy, materials, and industrials–account for 90% of all emissions and the performance of companies within these sectors is of key importance in delivering the reductions of 17% by 2020 required to meet the U.S. target. The materials and energy sectors have shown an average decrease in emissions over the last three years of 0.77% and 1.01%, respectively. However, utilities, which account for 37% of reported emissions, has experienced an annual growth in emissions of 1.64%, while industrials have been even higher with an annual increase of 2.03%.

You can download a copy of the CDC report, “S&P 100 Carbon Chasm“.