A new report The Blind Spot in Corporate Sustainability Rankings: Climate Policy Leadership by US Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) examines eight widely cited sustainability rankings and finds that only one (InfluenceMap’s Climate Policy Engagement A-List) recognizes companies for lobbying or other activities in favor of public policies that protect the climate. Only two (InfuenceMap’s Climate Policy Engagement A-List and Corporate Knights Global 100) penalize or disqualify companies for lobbying or activities against public policies to protect the climate. With the exception of InfluenceMap, none of the rankings analyzed in this report give weight to public policy advocacy commensurate.
Corporate climate commitments and initiatives have grown dramatically in recent years: over 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies have one or more clean energy goals, approximately half of Fortune 500 companies have set at least one climate or energy target and over 530 companies are setting greenhouse gas reduction goals through the Science Based Targets initiative. Alongside this growth, numerous sustainability rankings have emerged to help stakeholders assess corporate environmental performance and identify leaders.
Beyond their public relations benefits, these rankings also provide an essential service to companies by helping them define internal performance measures, attract top talent and link executive compensation to corporate sustainability. However, most of these rankings are missing a critical element of sustainability leadership: corporate engagement in climate policy.
While voluntary actions by companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are important, only public policy can deliver the pace and scale of reductions necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The urgency and magnitude of the climate challenge demands a bigger response from businesses than cutting their greenhouse gas emissions; companies also need to support policies that drive down emissions across the entire economy. That’s why policy advocacy is an essential element of sustainability leadership.