Investment report finds many companies wanting on climate

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Many companies in high-emission industries aren’t doing enough to respond to climate change, according to a report produced for some of the world’s biggest institutional investors that was published Wednesday.

The London-based Transition Pathway Initiative examined 274 publicly listed companies in sectors such as automobiles, mining and steelmaking. It concluded that almost half don’t adequately consider the risks of climate change when making business decisions. A quarter of the companies examined don’t report their greenhouse gas emissions at all.

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The report also found that, out of 160 companies studied, only one in eight is reducing emissions in line with the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times.

“Broadly speaking we see more progress than we see backsliding,” said Simon Dietz, a professor of environmental policy at the London School of Economics who co-wrote the report and a similar study published last year. “But most companies are not progressing.”

In addition to examining companies’ record on cutting carbon emissions, the report also assessed the quality of management when it comes to addressing climate change. The authors found that mining, utility and oil and gas companies appear particularly focused on the effect climate change will have on their business.

Climate change and the way companies are responding to it is becoming an increasingly important factor for large funds trying to decide which shares to buy. Some investors are concerned about the possibility that limits on corporate carbon emissions could affect the value of businesses that aren’t taking steps to reduce their emissions. Others, particularly those with ethical and environmental criteria for investing, see transparency on climate-related issues as a way of putting pressure on companies to do more against global warming.

The Transition Pathway Initiative, or TPI, is backed by investors that together manage over $14 trillion in assets, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, British insurer Aviva and Swiss bank UBS.

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TPI data online: http://www.transitionpathwayinitiative.org

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