Companies across the globe are struggling to make progress on climate change, resource efficiency and natural capital dependency, according to new research.
The '2014 State of Green Business' report has been published by sustainability specialist Trucost and its media partner.
The seventh annual edition of the report, which measures the global progress of large, publicly traded companies in addressing a myriad of environmental challenges, reveals little meaningful progress across most metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste disposal and other pollutant impacts.
Trucost chief executive Richard Mattison added: “According to the World Bank, we expect global economic growth of 3.3% to 2015, 3% from the US and 7.9% from China, a region that uses three times more natural resources than the rest of the world to create each unit of GDP. The environmental impacts of business – air pollution, biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity – are threatening the ability of our finite stock of natural capital to deliver sustainable growth.
“The challenge for sustainable business is to identify growth models that result in reduced environmental impact.”
The 2014 report includes the launch of the Natural Capital Leaders Index, a new methodology for identifying companies that are growing their revenue while reducing their environmental impacts. The 2014 Index found 34 companies from 10 countries that met Trucost’s criteria, which include increasing revenue between 2008 and 2012, disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in environmental impacts during that same period.
Among the 34 “decoupling leaders” [increasing revenue while decreasing natural capital impacts] over the most recent five year period are Carnival Corp., CSX, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, National Australia Bank, Pearson, Tata Power and Verizon.
The Index further identifies US and global “efficiency leaders” that use the least natural capital to generate revenue compared to sector peers – the more traditional sustainability leaders – which include Adobe Systems, AMEC, BMW, Ford, Manpower, McGraw Hill Financial, Pepco Holdings and Sprint Corp.
The report also names the ten sustainable business trends for 2014. Among them are the growth of collaboration among big corporations to solve mutual sustainability challenges, the growth of chemical transparency for consumer products, the emergence of “shadow pricing” as a means for companies to assess their environmental risks and net-positive buildings.
The metrics from the report were drawn from Trucost's assessment of 4,600 of the world’s largest companies representing 93% of global markets by market capitalisation.