CSRHub Blog Research on ESG metrics and comments on sustainability best practice

Why Do Some Companies Revise their Carbon Disclosures?

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 19, 2015 10:22:11 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By: Bahar Gidwani and Cedric Bleuez

CSRHub_CMD

Reducing carbon emissions has been the generally-accepted first step towards slowing global climate change.  A growing list of government and social organizations have called for corporations to take a leading role in this area.  They have asked companies to disclose how much carbon they generate and then commit to reduce their carbon footprint.

A high percentage (>50%) of the world’s 5,000 largest companies are currently disclosing data on their carbon profile.  However, a surprisingly large number of companies revise their disclosures each year.  We sought to discover the source of these revisions.  One of our partners, Carbon Market Data, built a list of 40 companies who had made major revisions between 2013 and 2014.  We compared various aspects of the sustainability reporting profile of these 40 companies to those of 272 other companies who may face similar regulatory and social pressures to accurately report this information.

To see the full research report, download a complimentary copy here or below.

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About the Authors

About Carbon Market Data

Carbon Market Data is a carbon market research company and data vendor offering information, consulting and technology services to a wide range of organisations in the world. Carbon Market Data developed the World Carbon Market Database, a unique and innovative carbon disclosure solution gathering data on the world's carbon trading markets.

A Demo version of the World Carbon Market Database is accessible online at http://www.carbonmarketdata.com.

Cedric Bleuez

Email: cedric.bleuez@carbonmarketdata.com

https://www.carbonmarketdata.com

https://twitter.com/CmarketData

https://www.linkedin.com/company/carbon-market-data

About CSRHub

Bahar Gidwani is CEO and Co-founder of CSRHub.  He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to the world’s largest corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information.  It covers over 15,000 companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 400 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices, and seek ways to improve corporate sustainability performance.

See the companies reviewed in this study on CSRHub.

 

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Obama Gets Personal on Climate Change

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 13, 2015 10:06:32 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By Carol Pierson Holding

Koch problem

The climate change movement took a powerful leap in 2012, when Bill McKibben identified a single enemy for climate activists to battle: the fossil fuel industry. He painted that industry as what branding experts would call “black hats,” referring to old Westerns where the bad guys were so identified, in direct contrast to the white-hat’d good guys, which would be McKibben and his followers.

This black hat/white hat dichotomy works best if you can reduce it to individuals as symbols. McKibben is obviously the white hat for the environment. In 2013, his status was confirmed with a Gandhi Peace Award.

And the black hat’d individual(s)? Charles and David Koch, of course. These two and their company, Koch Industries, are well known bad guys, whose prosecuted crimes include a wrongful death judgment, six felony and numerous misdemeanor convictions, and trading with Iran, and whose crimes against the environment led to record civil and criminal EPA-imposed financial penalties.

From about 1997 on, the Kochs took up the black hat mantle as outspoken funders of the climate denier machine.

The Kochs, once firmly libertarian, decided they couldn’t affect policy in a minority party and so moved to control Republican office-holders, who routinely cite the Kochs’ economy and jobs-vs-climate mantra. The Koch brothers intend to spend $900 million influencing the 2016 elections.

The Kochs are bad actors, no doubt. But they’re so rich and so powerful, how can McKibben ever be effective? It would almost take the leader of the free world to do battle with these determined climate killers.

And here he comes, white hat in hand and Kochs in his sights. Why does President Obama finally feel it’s OK to pile on? After all, he depends on the Kochs for support on issues such as rewriting Federal sentencing laws.  So on the environment, he was, as it turns out, relatively gentle with the Kochs — or at least critical only in generalities — back in August when he now famously called their efforts to push back renewable energy standards “…not the American way.”

In this issue’s Rolling Stone, Obama wallops the Kochs on specifics. Responding to a question from author Jeff Goodell about why he called the Kochs anti-American, Obama says:

“… (the Koch brothers) are actually trying to influence state utilities to make it more expensive for homeowners to install solar panels. …And by the way, they're also happy to take continued massive subsidies that Congress has refused to eliminate, despite me calling for the elimination of those subsidies every single year.”

It’s stunning to see a President whose environmental leanings have been shy of 100 percent commitment take a stance that’s not only pro-climate action, but points fingers at rich and politically powerful individuals.

Obama’s stance is here to stay. As the article makes clear, Obama’s pro-climate position has become hardened by two very personal factors.

First, his sadness over the natural world’s destruction. Raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, he enjoyed playing in magnificent coral reefs, as he describes them, “that were lush and full of fish” then, “that now, if you go back, are not.” These marvels along with the disappearing Alaskan glaciers he witnessed this month are photogenic examples that are hard to forget.

Second, as his daughters grow up, Obama has started to imagine grandchildren and the world they will live in. As he told Goodell,

“I think about Malia and Sasha a lot. I think about their children a lot. …When we were out on the water yesterday, going around those fjords, and the sea otter was swimming on its back and feeding off its belly, and a porpoise jumps out of the water, and a whale sprays — I thought to myself, I want to make sure my grandchildren see this.”

Even though this cerebral President has talked about climate action since his first election campaign in 2007, he, like all of us, responds most fervently when it hits him personally.

Obama ends the interview with a rousing statement that confirms he’s climate change’s white-hat-in-chief:

"What I don't want is for people to get paralyzed thinking that somehow this is out of our control. And I'm a big believer that the human imagination can solve problems. We don't usually solve them as fast as we need to. It's sort of like two cheers for democracy. We try everything else, I think Churchill said, and when we've exhausted every other alternative, we finally do the right thing."


Carol2Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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Compassion is Essential for Climate Mitigation

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 15, 2015 12:03:09 PM / by Carol Pierson Holding

Carol Pierson Holding

On last Thursday’s  Late Night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Joe Biden about his son’s death. It was remarkable to hear a potential Presidential candidate speak so candidly about his emotions. He used the term empathy in almost every sentence. Viewers could only imagine the magnitude of his decision: to run for President, which he acknowledged would take 110% of his time and attention, or to spend time with his newly fatherless grandchildren, widowed daughter-in-law and his stricken wife.

New Yorker writer Evan Osnos commented the next day that “…it was impossible not to see, in the Biden interview, a rebuttal to Trump’s moment in America—to the notion of self-promotion as success, of cruelty as candor, of empathy as weakness.”

The notion of empathy as weakness is being subverted as mainstream America develops a reverence for gentleness and compassion. You see it everywhere.

I learned about the Charter for Compassion from Cynthia Figge, COO of CSRHub (sponsor of this blog) and a Council member. That charter was created in 2008 to promote dignity and respect among humans. Now, environmentclimate change has pushed the charter to extend to compassion to nature as well, allowing “human beings to survive and thrive.”

Neuroscientist Dan Siegel credits compassion with rewiring the brain. It creates “a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity,” qualities essential for adapting to climate change. Siegel specifically addresses climate change through mindfulness and meditation techniques, which he says will naturally lead us to make decisions helpful to the earth.

Compassion has always been essential to our evolution. As Darwin wrote, “…those communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best...”  Time Magazine’s Greg Griffin expanded on Darwin in his article last week, “’Survival of the fittest’ is a sham,” which debunks the myth that American exceptionalism is based on military strength. Griffin’s thesis that cooperation, not strength, is key to survival is founded in our biology: we are “systems of cooperating species,” where microbial cells (bacteria) outnumber our cells ten to one.

We as humans rely on these interconnections and the compassion that feeds them to address society’s ills. One example: Stanford’s Medical School uses Compassion Cultivation Training to strengthen doctors’ empathy and kindness, thereby improving patient outcomes. As part of the program, the Stanford Medical Center will also incorporate more than 40,000 square feet of gardens to connect patients with the healing power of nature.

Just last month, The Sustainability in Prisons Project opened at the Washington Corrections Center to bring nature into the prisons. By making videos of nature available to prisoners in solitary confinement, prison officials intend to reduce prisoner violence, anxiety and depression. (Solitary confinement itself is being questioned for reasons of compassion.)

And then there’s business. With its increasing emphasis on CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, business addresses four buckets of sustainable behavior — employee, environment, community and governance — all of which fall within the rubric of compassion. India enacted legislation requiring companies with at least $830,000 in profits to allocate 2 percent to CSR activities, institutionalizing this more compassionate approach. And while poverty and malnutrition are terrible problems in India, providing its population with access to clean water and air is even more critical to survival.

Even football has its compassion champions. Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll leads his team with a kinder gentler hand that includes yoga, meditation and respect for the individual. Yelling, swearing and harshness are not allowed. In 2014, his unorthodox technique brought the team its first Super Bowl championship. Carroll’s compassion for his players extends to the environment as well: Four years ago, Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen initiated the Green Sports Alliance with the Natural Resource Defense Council to model environmental behavior. Since then, the Seahawks have converted to clean energy and provided the means for fans to recycle and compost at games.

Just as on the football field, compassion and cooperation work better than criticism and conflict, especially when applied to mitigating climate change. Donald Trump represents a dying model of power and influence, one that has led us to this precipice. We’re ready for something new, albeit built on constructs as old as life itself: the evolutionary imperative to be sympathetic and the neurological requirement to be compassionate. If these qualities galvanize our reverence for nature, we just might have a fighting chance.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Edwards.


Carol2Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 130 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

      

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Capitalism Rallies to Fight Climate Change

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 4, 2015 9:26:52 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By: Carol Pierson Holding

Capitalism

In his op-ed piece “Two Cheers for Capitalism,” conservative columnist David Brooks quotes fellow New York Times writer Anand Giridharadas about why capitalism isn’t working:

“The rich are to be praised for the good they do with their philanthropy, but they are never to be challenged for the harm they do in their businesses. … Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right side of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.”

I wonder why Brooks considers this statement “courageous” and “provocative” rather than stating the obvious.

Indeed, in 2014, World Bank Economist Apurva Sanghi made the same argument for business and its own form of Papal indulgence: “CSR (corporate social responsibility) is about companies ‘giving back’ … How can companies that produce products that are polluting the environment have a strong reputation for social and environmental responsibility?’”

Sanghi slams some CSR as just another form of the “’guilt complex’ - charity as a means of managing a potential backlash.” And surely that happens, as he points out, with oil companies and big tobacco. But when a company makes an operational decision that’s good for society, you can bet it’s also good for the business.

And when businesses band together with competitors to address a societal ill, it’s because the very heart of capitalism is threatened, as it is with climate change.

Will capitalists step up to climate change for their own survival?

The evidence seems to say yes.

We’ve all heard about climate-caused business disruptions – think Hurricane Sandy in New York and rising sea levels along the East Coast. But climate change affects both  operations and consumer confidence.

The latest Yale/Gallup/Clearvision poll found 62% of Americans are convinced that “global warming is an urgent threat requiring immediate and drastic action,” indicating widespread fear.

Recall the stock market crash of 2008: when consumers are afraid, they don’t buy products and they don’t invest. As the impact of climate change gets worse, consumers may just stop spending. As temperature extremes worsen, they might just stay home.

And consumers are rewarding climate friendly companies by buying their products and their stocks.

The rest of business is jumping into action too.

Just a few days ago, the Huffington Post reported that eleven environmentally responsible corporations including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, and Apple joined Obama in "American Business Act on Climate Pledge." The purpose of the climate pledge? To support a "strong outcome" at the climate negotiations in Paris and commit to renewable energy, emissions reduction, responsible water use and halting deforestation.

Last year, even without the President’s backing, over 100 companies joined a coalition called We Mean Business to advocate bold action on climate change. Those companies were already climate leaders in their products (think electric cars and green investment funds) and operations.

We Mean Business now represents $2.19 trillion in members’ revenue and $7.4 trillion of investment.

Capitalism as practiced in 2015 America is a flawed system, distorted by years of legislation removing essential safeguards. But when it comes to climate change, capitalism might just be the most effective solution. Regardless of how weak you believe the connection is between profit and social responsibility, the connection between profit and public opinion has never been stronger.

Add to that the economic opportunities presented in the course of addressing climate change in both operations and consumer loyalty — opportunities such as Ikea discovering a solar gold mine in its massive flat roofs and the UK’s Marks & Spencer’s impressive gains in reducing carbon emissions while successfully relaunching its brand as the sustainable retailer — and you’re seeing capitalism at its finest.

Photo courtesy of Alessio via Flickr CC


Carol2Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 130 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

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When Climate Change Gets Personal

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 27, 2015 9:19:03 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By: Carol Pierson Holding

Rancho_SantaFe

Steve Yuhas, a resident of wealthy California enclave Rancho Santa Fe, has become famous for his reaction to drought-imposed water restrictions. His post reads: “(People) should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.” In a follow-on interview with the Washington Post, he added, “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live. And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” Clearly, public shaming is not going to work on this guy.

And we’ve all heard about how Tom Selleck stealing water by the tanker-load from a fire hydrant. Selleck argues it was only illegally diverted, not stolen, but he’s still breaking the law to keep his ranch going.

On the other end of the economic spectrum are agricultural workers in San Joaquin Valley, trying to survive on water that has arsenic levels double the level considered safe. Even bathing can result in poisoning. Impoverished residents are buying bottled water just to survive.

I’ve been reading similar stories about the personal impact of climate change for at least twenty years. They range from the ridiculous to the tragic. But this year is the first time it’s struck me personally.

I live in Seattle, historically one of the top five rainiest U.S. cities with the least amount of annual sunlight. Average temperatures are mild on either end, ranging from 47 in December and January to 75 in July and August.

Dried Grass

I spend as much of my summer as I can on one of the islands north of Seattle, a verdant paradise of fir and giant maple forests reaching down to rock beaches. It gets dry and hot in August – sometimes as high as 90 degrees – and the lawn can go brown in spots, but the paths through the forest show wet spots all year round.

Except this year. Rainfall was lower than usual in the winter, and May-June was the driest ever. June was exceptionally hot, with average temperatures nine degrees higher than normal. That very hot, dry weather has continued through July.

For the first time, I am suffering because of rising temperatures that, like California’s drought, are most likely the result of climate change.

I get heat headaches that can grow into migraines. My nervous system shorts and my extremities grow numb. I can’t think clearly and typing is difficult.

Climate change is suddenly personal.

And that changes everything.

I don’t have the energy to be outraged anymore. I’m just trying to stay focused on getting through my day without taking a toxic amount of Advil to reduce the pounding in my head until the heat of the day dissipates into a blessedly cool evening.

But the sea temperature is going up too, so we don’t know how long that evening cooling will last.

Since I moved here six years ago, I’ve looked with satisfaction at climate maps where the Pacific Northwest appears as a blue crescent against the punitive reds and oranges of the rest of the United States. We’ve been self-righteous about our environmental ways that seemingly rewarded us with cool temps and blessed rain, renewable hydro-power and abundant wild seafood.

Now we’re suffering with the rest of the world.

I’ve gone from indignation that everybody else is using up resources and contributing to climate change, to fighting just to feel normal.

Though I’d hate to align myself with the likes of Tom Selleck and Steve Yuhas, they share more than they’d like with me and with the farm workers of the San Joaquin Valley: we’re all experiencing the pain of losing a piece of life that we once took for granted. It feels very different than an ideological violation. It’s visceral.

Despite our very different experiences, every one of us is compromised by the effects of climate change. At some point won’t we all see that we’re aligned in a common cause? Using water illegally addresses personal pain with a short-term solution. So does buying bottled water. Or hiding out in a dark air-conditioned room as I did last week. On the other hand, working together to mitigate climate change and insisting that our leaders do the same could give us back the lush, fertile land in Rancho Santa Fe, the San Joaquin Valley, Seattle — and all over the world for that matter. We’ll all be better off.

Photo courtesy of Stewart Long via Flickr CC

Photo courtesy of Carol Pierson Holding


Carol2Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University's School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 130 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

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