Businesses named on 'A-list' for tackling their climate impact

Zoe Wood
Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Sainsbury’s, Lego and H&M are among the businesses to make a prestigious A-list of companies that are deemed to be at the forefront of the charge to tackle the “existential” climate crisis.

The list is compiled by non-profit group CDP which scores companies based on the environmental data they voluntarily disclose on its platform. Just 2% of the 8,000 companies it scores made the A-list, with Nestlé, Unilever, BT and Walmart among the 179 to make the cut. A focus on the climate emergency was not at the expense of business success, CDP said, with companies on the A-list also outperforming peers on the stock market by 5.5% a year.

The company also has an F-list for companies that did not submit a response for climate change in 2019 – with Amazon and Facebook among the 9,225.

Dexter Galvin, CDP’s global director of corporations and supply chains, said the A-list were “blazing a trail for others to follow”. He said: “Other companies should look to these leaders for inspiration and learn from them.”

“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,” continued Galvin. “Companies can and should become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

With the financial performance of companies on the A-list better than their rivals, Galvin said this demonstrated that “leading on climate action is good business in today’s economy” and would be “essential business in tomorrow’s economy”.

Unilever points to the success of its trophy sustainable brands – a group of 28 that includes Dove, Hellmann’s and Sunsilk – which are growing much faster than the rest of its business. The brands, which accounted for more than half of the group’s €51bn (£46bn) sales last year, are those that are the furthest ahead on meeting the company’s sustainability goals.

A-list companies scored highly because of their transparent and comprehensive disclosure of climate data. Examples of best practice include setting science-based targets, shifting to renewable energy and incentivising suppliers to reduce their emissions.

Lego, for example, was praised for increasing its use of recycled materials and plant-based plastics; two years ago it started selling Lego pieces made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane. Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, has pledged to halve the amount of plastic packaging it uses over the next six years.

H&M, the Swedish group that also owns & Other Stories and Cos brands, is aiming to have 100% recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030.

CDP says investors and purchasers are calling for transparency and action from companies on how they are responding to climate change.