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January 21, 2020

Companies still lack data on climate change action

Clothing brands and retailers need to be more forthcoming with data regarding their efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new analysis of corporate transparency and action on the issue.

By Hannah Abdulla

Clothing brands and retailers need to be more forthcoming with data regarding their efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new analysis of corporate transparency and action on the issue.

The latest annual survey from non-profit CDP scores thousands of companies that disclose environmental data through its platform each year at the request of their corporate customers and investors. The total number of disclosing companies this year was 8446, up 20% on last year’s 7016.

Companies are scored from A to D- on an annual basis, with those that don’t disclose or provide insufficient information to be evaluated being marked with an F.

A-List companies are considered leaders because of their transparent and comprehensive disclosure of climate data, thorough awareness of climate risks, demonstration of strong governance and management of those risks, and demonstration of market-leading best practices, CDP says. Examples of best practice could include setting science-based targets, shifting to renewable energy, investing in low-carbon product innovation, using internal carbon pricing or incentivising suppliers to reduce their emissions.

Just 2% of the 8,000 scored on their 2019 disclosures made the A-List – including apparel brands and retailers such as Gildan Activewear, Kering, Inditex, Fast Retailing, H&M, Burberry, Walmart Inc, Kohl’s, Hanesbrands and Gap Inc.

Scoring a grade B “management level” is where points are awarded for evidence of actions associated with good environmental management, as determined by CDP and its partner organisations. Woolworths Australia, Salvatore Ferragamo, Asics Corp, Woolworths South Africa, Coats Group, N.Brown Group, Next, JC Penney, Target Corp, Nike Inc, Levi Strauss and VF Corp all scored B. 

Grade C represents “awareness” and measures the comprehensiveness of a company’s evaluation of how environmental issues intersect with its business. However, the awareness score does not indicate that a company has taken any actions to address environmental issues beyond initial screenings or assessments. Action to address issues is measured in the “B” level of scoring. Apparel and footwear brands and retailers scoring C included Global Brands Group, Li & Fung, Superdry, Associated British Foods, Tapestry Inc, L Brands, PVH Corp, and Macy’s.

Grade D represents the Disclosure Level. Hugo Boss and Abercrombie & Fitch scored D. 

Failure to disclose data and those that fail to provide sufficient information are marked with an F score. Wesfarmers, Hudson’s Bay Co, Canada Goose, Lectra, Geox, Mothercare, French Connection, Bonmarche Holdings, Debenhams and Sports Direct all scored F.

Dexter Galvin, global director of corporations and supply chains at CDP, says companies on the A-List are “blazing a trail for others to follow.”

“The latest science says we need global emissions to urgently peak and start declining by 7.6% a year to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It’s clear that global business has a critical role to play in this existential challenge. Companies can and should become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

He also points out that leading on climate action is good business, with the STOXX Climate Leaders Index showing that those on the CDP A List outperform their peers on the stock market by 5.5% per annum.

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