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4 Ways Collaboration Can Get Companies on CDP’s "A List"

By Daniel Hill
We should certainly celebrate the companies that made it to CDP's A list. But if we neglect the B’s, C’s and D’s, we all lose.

We should certainly celebrate the companies that made it to CDP's A list. But if we neglect the B’s, C’s and D’s, we all lose.

Last week, CDP recognized companies for leading on climate change. Around 127 brands received an “A” grade – 2% of reporting companies – while the others were stamped with B’s, C’s and D’s.

We should certainly celebrate the companies that made it to the A List. These companies have proven leadership in corporate climate action and should be recognized.

But if we neglect the B’s, C’s and D’s, we all lose.

True cohesive climate action requires elevating the environmental performance of all companies – not just one-by-one. And the best way to do that is through collaboration.

The purpose behind CDP’s list and what it’s missing

CDP asks companies to report their environmental impact, how they’re managing it and what opportunities exist for reducing it.

These grades are published to give a holistic view at how the world’s companies are tackling climate change – and to light a fire under their feet to do more.

But CDP is only one reporting framework.

If a company doesn’t make the A List, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not taking action to reduce their footprint.

Take Hershey, who just announced a suite of environmental plans, including committing to set Science-Based Targets. Or Comcast, which is working towards zero waste by reducing the amount of waste and recyclables it sends to landfills. Or NRG Energy, which developed an asset analysis and enterprise risk assessment tool that can be used to improve the sustainability of its supply chain.

Other companies might receive a B, C, or D because their reporting capabilities aren’t in line with CDP’s standards. And others, quite possibly, might just need help turning their ambition into action.

Turn the B, C, and D’s to A’s through collaboration

One of the best ways to give these non-A List companies the support they need is through collaboration. Because in reality, the biggest environmental challenges can’t be conquered by 127 companies. There needs to be impact across entire industries.

Here are four ways collaboration can be used to help elevate all companies.

  • Work with peers. Collaboration and transparency must exist within the industry itself. True business leadership isn’t about improving individual performance – it’s about helping others do the same by sharing best practices. Set the bar, then help others get there.
  • Partner with NGOs. Partnerships can help tackle the middle miles – the time when the real hard work kicks in. NGOs provide hands-on help to execute against climate-related goals – like EDF Climate Corps has been doing for over a decade.
  • Join initiatives. Since the decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, companies have stepped up on climate leadership by announcing commitments of their own, like joining the Science-Based Target initiative or RE100. Setting ambitious, measurable GHG emission targets through these groups also keeps companies honest by holding them publicly accountable.
  • Engage with policy makers. The most important thing companies and investors can do is use their influence to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy by supporting smart policies. Because while voluntary corporate actions to cut emissions are important, they’re simply not enough. Only public policy can deliver the pace and scale of reductions needed to move entire industries – not isolated corporate commitments.

Collaborating can help the remaining 98% of companies get closer to next year’s “A List.”

Previously posted on 3BL Media News and the EDF+Business blog.

Daniel Hill headshot

Daniel Hill is a Project Manager for the EDF Climate Corps team, which orchestrates an innovative fellowship program placing top tier graduate students in leading companies, municipalities and universities to build the business case for sustainability and energy efficiency.

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