Four Out Of Ten Of The Largest U.S. Companies Fail To Publish Plans To Reduce Carbon Emissions, KPMG Study

Only 17 Percent of U.S. Companies that Report on Carbon Declare Emissions Reduction Targets with At Least a 15-Year Timeframe

Dec 01, 2015, 10:39 ET from KPMG LLP

NEW YORK, Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite increasing pressure on companies to reduce their carbon footprints as governments across the world commit to combat climate change, 41 percent of the largest U.S. companies do not communicate emissions reduction plans to their stakeholders, according to the KPMG Survey Of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2015.

Of the U.S. companies that do state carbon reduction targets in their corporate responsibility or annual reports, less than one-third provide rationale to explain why those targets were selected. Globally, 47 percent of the world's largest 250 companies (G250) don't include carbon reduction targets in their key company reports.

The U.S. government has set long-term targets to reduce emissions under President Obama's Climate Action Plan, which, when fully implemented, will cut nearly 6 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030.  However, many large U.S. companies don't appear to be aligned with this initiative. Only 17 percent of the U.S. G250 companies that report on carbon publish emissions reduction targets with a timeframe of 15 years or more, according to the KPMG report analyzing carbon information published by G250 companies in annual financial and corporate responsibility reports. This lack of long-term planning is also a global phenomenon as only 14 percent of all G250 companies that report on carbon declare timeframes of at least 15 years.

"While government initiatives are in place to spur greenhouse gas reduction efforts, there is no U.S. regulatory driver for mandatory economy-wide emissions reduction targets, which may in part explain why many companies don't state reduction targets," said Katherine Blue, National Sustainability Network leader at KPMG LLP.

Need For Quality and Consistency in Reporting 

Global carbon pollution reduction efforts are becoming more coordinated as evidenced by efforts at the 2015 Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris to broker a universal climate change agreement. As global and national initiatives gain momentum, companies face high stakeholder expectations to provide consistent information on carbon emissions. However, KPMG's analysis indicates that the type and quality of information that companies report on varies.

Based on a scoring methodology that analyzes carbon reporting quality factoring in the identification of climate change and carbon reduction as material; data quality and accuracy; information about targets and progress against them; and how carbon data is being communicated, the 71 U.S. companies in the G250 scored 51 out of 100 percent, matching the average of all G250 companies, but lagging the UK and Germany, which recorded quality scores of 70 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

"Many U.S. companies are evolving their emissions reporting from a compliance-based approach centered on the accurate disclosure of certain data required by regulators, towards a more holistic approach, in which information that is material to the business is reported to stakeholders in a way that enables them to assess performance against targets," said Blue. "This focus on disclosing regulated information rather than sharing data material to the business may explain why U.S. companies lag their European counterparts in areas such as communicating longer-term goals, disclosing downstream emissions and explaining the context of reported emissions."

Additional Key Findings

  • Business benefits of emissions reductions not emphasized – Only 43 percent of the U.S. companies that report on carbon explain in their reporting how their businesses benefit from reducing carbon emissions.
  • Lack of reporting on downstream emissions – While 93 percent of the U.S. companies that do report on carbon declare emissions from their own operations, a mere 7 percent report the emissions from the use or disposal of their products.

About the Report

The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting is now in its 9th edition and was first published in 1993. Research is carried out by professionals in KPMG member firms and is based on publicly available information published by companies in their corporate responsibility reports, annual financial reports and websites. In the 2015 edition, the sample of the world's 250 largest companies is based on the 2014 Fortune 500 listing.


KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG International's member firms have 162,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 155 countries.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services operating in 155 countries and having more than 162,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, please visit



Michael Rudnick




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