In a new report on carbon emissions, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is warning that less than half of companies surveyed have seen a decline in their emissions solely as a result of emission reductions activities.
The recession has been good for carbon emissions, having led to staff reductions, closure of plants, offices and shops, reductions in output, manufacturing, and business travel, not to mention corporate and consumer spending.
However, the study suggests that the slowdown has also resulted in companies making only short-term investments to reduce emissions, rather than longer-term capital investments.
The concern is that as global economies recover, emissions will rise too.
According to PwC, the average of the longer-term absolute targets outlined by Carbon Disclosure Project (CPD) respondents is “drastically too low”, at around a 1% reduction per year.
This is well below the 4% required by countries to limit global warming to 2°C.
The firm’s global lead, sustainability and climate change, Malcolm Preston, comments: “Even with progress year on year, the reality is the level of corporate and national ambition on emissions reduction is nowhere near what is required.”
He adds: “The new normal for businesses is a period of high uncertainty, subdued growth and volatile commodity prices.
“If regulatory certainty doesn’t come soon, businesses’ ability to plan and act, particularly around energy, supply chain and risk, could be anything but ‘normal’.”
The CDP report is co-written by PwC on behalf of CDP’s 655 institutional investors representing $78 trillion in assets.
It provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at the world’s largest public corporations.
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