Europe’s best and worst carbon polluters named and shamed

Thursday, 5 May 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO) put insurers Aviva and Aegon at the top of the heap of Europe’s 300 largest companies for their low levels of publicly-reported greenhouse gas emissions, relative to their revenue.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are KGHM, a Polish mining company, and Sodexo, a food services and management company, both of which failed to disclose their emissions publicly.

“The purpose of the Carbon Rankings is twofold: to highlight the carbon emissions and levels of disclosure of the world’s largest companies with the aim of fostering greater transparency and to form the basis of a series of stock market indexes, designed specifically to provide the investment community with a viable tool for tackling climate change,” Sam Gill, EIO operational director, said in a statement.

“Despite most companies producing corporate social responsibility reports there remains a remarkable lack of transparency and clarity in greenhouse gas emissions reporting.”

A few notable findings:

nLess than half of Europe’s 300 largest public companies publicly disclose and verify their greenhouse gas emissions

nSpain and Italy ranked the highest in terms of transparency and verification. The lowest rankings countries were Switzerland and France.

nFour of the five highest-emitting companies, in absolute terms, were from the power utility sector

The EIO previously released a ranking of the 100 largest U.K. companies in February. In the pipeline are the ET North America 300, Asia-Pacific 300, BRICS 100 and the ET Global 800 rankings. Eventually, EIO plans to release the ET UK 100 and The ET Europe 300 as “live” indexes.

All will follow the same methodology, which is designed to reward disclosure and verification. Companies are first categorised on their level of disclosure (public, complete, verified; public, complete, unverified; public, incomplete; and no public data).  If no data is offered publicly, EIO assigns a carbon intensity level based on the highest emissions of a company within the same sector. Finally, firms are then ordered according to their emissions intensity levels. If there is a tie, companies with a smaller market capitalisation are given the advantage since they have fewer resources to invest in their reporting.

EIO noted that its work earned an early success with Randgold Resources, the last-place company in its inaugural ET UK 100 Carbon Ranking. Randgold Resources now reports its emissions publicly through its annual report, which moved the mining company from No. 100 to No. 69 on the updated ranking. Carnival Cruise Lines has reportedly hit back at the findings, filing an appeal with EIO to review its public information and revise the results. According to the company, it measures intensity by ship size, passenger capacity and distance travelled, rather than the turnover rate used by EIO.