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4 Questions About Corporate Emissions, Answered through New Interactive Tool

We have more data than ever before on the private sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1998, Greenhouse Gas Protocol has worked toward standardizing corporate greenhouse gas accounting and reporting, and today, 75 percent of the Global 500 companies report their emissions data and climate change-related activities to the international reporting platform CDP.

The challenge lies in making this climate-related data accessible and navigable. The new CAIT Climate Data Explorer Business platform addresses that challenge.

Unveiled today, this first version of the tool allows users to easily access, compare and visualize corporate emissions and emissions-reduction targets. It is part of our CAIT Climate Data Explorer suite, which is recognized as one of the most highly-trusted sources for climate data. Company emissions and target data is primarily provided by CDP, the global reporting platform with the largest collection of self-reported climate change, water and forest-risk data.

The tool’s data also reveals answers to important questions about climate action from the private sector. Here’s a look at some of the insights you can glean from the CAIT Climate Data Explorer Business platform:

How has greenhouse gas reporting changed in recent years?

In 2004, 46 percent of the Global 500 reported emissions data to CDP. Today, that number is 75 percent, and 80 percent of those companies go a step further by disclosing an emissions-reduction target. This reflects a meaningful shift over the last decade in the private sector’s desire to understand and manage their carbon footprint. More and more, companies have turned to this unified, global reporting platform in order to see how they rank among their peers.

Which companies have made the most progress in lowering their emissions?

The tool’s dashboard includes a chart displaying the companies that have reduced their total absolute emissions the most on a percentage basis between 2013 and 2015. The chart can be filtered by industry.

Intel Corporation reduced its emissions the most between 2013 and 2015, by 33 percent. Intuit Inc. comes in second place with an emissions reduction of 29.9 percent. Though Intel and Intuit have similarly significant emissions reductions, Intuit’s overall emissions are much smaller than Intel’s because it is a much smaller company.

Which companies have set emissions-reduction targets based on the best-available climate science?

Users can filter companies by whether they have a science-based target, meaning an emissions-reduction target verified by the Science Based Targets initiative (a joint effort of CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF) as aligned with the level of reductions needed to limit warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), the cap science says is necessary to prevent some of the worst effects of climate change.

As of today, 10 companies have set science-based targets: Coca Cola Enterprises, Dell, Enel, General Mills, Kellogg, NRG Energy, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Sony, and Thalys. Combined, these 10 companies will reduce their operational emissions by 799 million tonnes CO2 over the lifetime of the targets, equivalent to preventing the burning of 1.86 billion barrels of oil.1

How do companies compare with their competitors?

Users can compare a company’s emissions and goals to those of other companies globally and within the same sector.

For example, let’s look at Duke Energy Corporation and American Electric Power Company, Inc. Both companies are U.S.-based utility companies, and have emissions of a similar size.

Both companies have emissions-reductions targets, but chose to structure their targets differently:

  • Duke Energy has an absolute target to reduce emissions from their operations by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. This company also has an intensity target (an emissions target based on production) to reduce emissions by 27 percent per megawatt hour (tonnes CO2e/MWh) by 2020, also over 2005 levels.
  • American Electric Power Company has an absolute target to reduce emissions 10 percent below 2010 levels by 2020.

When comparing companies, it is important to consider the company’s overall size, the target base year and goal year, and whether the targets are absolute or based on intensity. These factors affect whether a company’s target is more or less ambitious than another’s.

Explore the tool for yourself to discover how much companies are emitting, and which companies are setting ambitious targets in support of a low-carbon economy.

In the future, WRI and its partners will expand the features of CAIT Climate Data Explorer Business, allowing users to explore other aspects of companies’ climate profiles. –Have feedback on features you’d like to see? Send suggestions to Stephen Russell at

  1. Calculation methodology Assumptions and calculation approach for absolute targets: (1) assumed a fixed baseline emissions level equal to base year value; (2) assumed actual emissions levels will decrease linearly with time from the base year value to the target year value; (3) calculated reductions for any 1 company as the total of the annual differences based on (1) and (2). Assumptions and calculation approach for intensity targets: (1) assumed that production levels would increase each year between the base year and target year by a constant percentage amount. In order of descending preference and depending on data availability, this amount was the percentage value specified by a company, the IEA sector-specific growth projection, or the average real GDP growth rate increase over the past 50 years (3.8%, source); (2) assumed a fixed baseline intensity equal to base year intensity; (3) assumed that actual intensity levels will decline linearly over time from the base year value to the target year value; (4) calculated reductions for any one company as the total of the annual differences in emissions based on (2) and (3). Data sources: Data supplied in companies’ target evaluation forms, in addition to the sources noted above. Exclusions: Reduction calculations focus on SBTs and therefore only scope 1 and 2 emissions, unless scope 3 is explicitly part of the SBT. 

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