Sustainable Stock Exchange report highlights GHG reporting success

A report released last week analyses the sustainability performance of the world’s 45 largest stock exchanges. Mike Shirley comments on the results of the London Stock Exchange and what this means for sustainable business in the UK.

The Measuring Sustainability Disclosure: Ranking the World’s Stock Exchanges 2016 report was released last week. First commissioned by Aviva Plc in 2012, the study tracks corporate disclosure across the world’s 45 largest stock exchanges.

Seven sustainability indicators – payroll, GHGs, energy, water, waste, injury rate and employee turnover - are analysed across 4,469 of the world’s largest companies.

Of those companies tracked in the study, only 47% reported their GHG emissions. Considering the focus on climate change in recent years and the increasing recognition of the private sector’s role in driving sustainability through initiatives such as the RE100, this number is surprisingly low.

While only eighth overall, the London Stock Exchange topped the list for GHG reporting with 95% of companies disclosing their emissions. This success is down to the fact that reporting carbon emissions is mandatory for all FTSE250 companies under the 2013 update of the Companies Act.

Yes, many of these companies may be reporting emissions only because they have to but it’s still a success. Disclosed emissions means more awareness of companies’ activities which in turn, means more pressure to reduce carbon footprint.

So what does this all mean for the UK’s leading sustainable businesses?

It means that everyone is reporting emissions now, so just doing that is not enough to position themselves as frontrunners. True sustainability leaders need to be working hard to actively reduce emissions and show they are taking action to minimise impact through initiatives such as energy efficiency, on-site generation and buying renewable electricity.

There are clearly challenges associated with this, especially for businesses looking to grow their operations, but the real sustainability pioneers are building it into the business strategy at the highest levels to make sure it stays at the top of the agenda.

> Read the report