The vast majority (96 percent) of companies publish voluntary climate goals, data or metrics in their sustainability or CSR report, though this data is also spread across eight other corporate sources, according to research from the Society for Corporate Governance and Persefoni.
The company website is the next-most popular place to publish such information (59 percent), while investors and other stakeholders can also find voluntary climate goals and CDP questionnaires there (52 percent), the study finds.
A further 42 percent say they disclose such data in a TCFD report, while more than a third (36 percent) do so in their proxy statement. Just 15 percent of companies say they disclose voluntary climate data in their annual report. Eleven percent do so in a topic-specific report, such as a climate report. Around 90 percent of respondents say they are proactively tracking climate and environmental metrics.
CalSTRS recently said mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting could come into effect in the US by year-end.
As investor interest in ESG has increased, so has board oversight. According to the society/Persefoni survey, the board’s nominating/governance committee takes primary oversight responsibility for climate and other environmental issues in 63 percent of cases, while 26 percent of respondents report full board oversight.
The survey also finds that climate-related topics appear on board meeting agendas in differing frequencies for the full board or board committee/s. Environmental-related topics, excluding climate, tend to appear on an ad hoc or as-needed basis.
Research from Corporate Secretary last year found that a large majority of boards were discussing ESG topics more frequently than in the past amid investor scrutiny of how they are approaching their responsibilities in the area.
Globally, 80 percent of governance and sustainability professionals surveyed by Corporate Secretary said there has been a slight or large increase in the frequency with which their company’s main board is discussing ESG issues compared with two years ago. Sixty percent report a large increase compared with three years ago. Just 1 percent said there has been any kind of decrease in the frequency of discussions.
Board members’ experience and expertise in dealing with ESG issues has also become a topic of interest among directors, governance professionals, investors and other stakeholders. Almost two thirds (65 percent) of respondents at mega-cap companies told Corporate Secretary that investors had asked about the board’s skills in relation to ESG issues. This compared with just under half (47 percent) of those at mid-caps, around one third (34 percent) of large caps and almost a quarter (24 percent) of small-cap companies.