Written by Joe Gosney, Senior Researcher, ESG Strategic Advisory
A fierce debate is raging on within the environmental disclosure space. If CDP reporting is on your mind, you should pay attention, less you risk getting grilled…
CDP reporting season is upon us and if you’re like me, then there will be a strong desire to get your head down, ignore the feeling of ‘reporting overload’ and focus on the work.
And yet, this year, the whiff of controversy is almost impossible to ignore.
What’s the beef?
I am referring to the public upheaval that has followed one of the largest meat producers on the planet receiving an ‘A-minus’ grade by CDP in December.
Whilst the recipients have been shouting from the rooftops about the label of ‘industry-leader’ awarded to them by the by the gold standard on environmental reporting, not everyone is convinced they deserve it…
“Ah, controversy, we meat again…”
An alliance of 20 civil society groups have raised concerns about greenwashing, fuelled by the lack of publicly-available reporting on deforestation impacts from the company and a failure to publicly disclose its supply chain emissions, which have been estimated to be significant in scope. There are arguments abound that companies which neglect to make their environmental metrics and calculation methodologies publicly available should not be considered ‘leaders’, and CDP and its reporting framework have been going through the proverbial meat grinder because of it.
Let’s talk turkey
Whilst the realities for companies in emission intensive industries are likely more nuanced than they appear on the public stage, failure to be transparent only fuels consumer distrust, investor scrutiny and potential divestment. Consumers see companies as key players in tackling the climate crisis and investment strategies are increasingly based on ESG credentials. Thus, the arguments put forth by these companies’ critics are legitimate and, more importantly, are making waves within the voluntary disclosure space which are impossible to ignore.
In response to the recent criticism, CDP is considering changes that will increase the emphasis on publicly available disclosure in the near future. Companies that fail to make their response publicly available will be unable to reach the upper levels of the transparency charity’s tiered scoring, the renowned ‘A’ grade that many companies now aim for.
It’s okay to admit your misteaks
I for one, agree with the approach that CDP is taking. When it comes to environmental disclosure, honesty is always the best policy. Transparency may not be easy, but it is essential for public trust and generates far fewer scandals to boot. In the public eye, true leaders are those that put up their hands, admit they are not perfect and then follow through on their commitments to improve.
Understandably, for many companies, submitting themselves to the ever-critical gaze of the public can be a daunting prospect. At Corporate Citizenship (part of SLR) we understand the pressure that many companies are under to demonstrate leadership, and the pitfalls that face those who take the ‘easy road’. Our consultants can guide you through the CDP process and beyond, designing bespoke solutions to solve even the most challenging environmental quandaries and ensuring that when it comes to standing up to public scrutiny, you’ll have the answers in your back pocket.
For further information on CDP and other Corporate Citizenship and SLR sustainability services, get in touch with us here or visit our website at www.corporate-citizenship.com.