By William Sherman, Client and Research Manager 

Editor’s note: This essay is based on the third edition of the David Gardiner and Associates (DGA) Corporate Climate Tracker, which is updated on an ongoing basis. Check back for exclusive, periodic updates. You can find the article introducing the tracker here.

The Climate Group’s Climate Week NYC, the biggest climate summit taking place this year, held over 350 events across New York City and around the world from September 21-27, 2020. During the week, several corporations, including some major Fortune 500 players, announced new and ambitious clean energy and sustainability targets, as well as public commitments to join climate initiatives such as the RE100 and the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Given the influx of announcements, DGA decided to update its Corporate Climate Tracker, which is designed to help stakeholders understand how businesses are—or aren’t—engaging on climate. Using publicly available data, the tracker captures participation in climate-related initiatives from CeresThe Climate GroupRenewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), Science-Based Targets InitiativeWe Are Still In and the We Mean Business Coalition.

Below is a snapshot of 19 industry sectors and their participation across the climate initiatives:

To download the full data set, visit here.

Looking at corporate activity since last summer, there are several notable updates:

  • Overall, 133 Fortune 500 companies are participating in at least one tracked climate initiative, up from 114 companies. This is just over 26 percent of the Fortune 500. 47 of the total 133 companies, or 35 percent, are located within the Fortune 100.
  • Based on the updated 2020 Fortune 500 rankings, the tracker saw 26 companies join the list and seven companies come off the list—a net increase of 19 companies.
  • Companies that joined new initiatives include AT&T, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, Target, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, Uber Technologies, Coty Inc., CBRE, Whirlpool Corp., Ecolab, CSX Corp., Crown Holdings, Thor Industries, Republic Services, Univar Solutions, CMS Energy, and Ralph Lauren.
  • We stopped tracking corporate engagement in the Advanced Energy Economy initiative in 2020 and going forward. As a result, companies such as General Electric and Comcast Corporation have been removed from the list.
  • Motorola Solutions dropped off the list due to their 2016 Science Based Targets commitment expiring in 2019.
  • Every tracked initiative added at least one new participating company: Science Based Targets (twenty-one new companies); We Mean Business (twelve); RE100 (ten); Ceres (nine); We Are Still In (six); and REBA (one).
  • In total, this update captures 59 new commitments across the full suite of the six initiatives.
  • With 23 companies, the Financial sector climbed the ladder to assume the top-ranked sector by number of companies participating in at least one initiative; followed by the Technology and Food, Beverages and Tobacco sectors, with 18 and 15 companies respectively. Altogether these three sectors account for over 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies participating in the climate initiatives.
  • Twenty-eight Fortune 500 companies participate in only one initiative. Seven companies (Adobe, Microsoft, Target, PepsiCo, Salesforce, Starbucks, and VF Corp.) are participating across all six initiatives. Thirty-five companies participate in four or more.

DGA created the tracker to provide the market a sense of the movement across corporate climate commitments. Climate change continues to make the headlines this year, from the forest fires out west to the flooding in the south to the hurricanes along the coasts. Given the political atmosphere and the election just around the corner, it’s encouraging to see that corporation participation is continuing to increase across all these sustainability initiatives.

In future updates of the Corporate Climate Tracker, DGA will look to incorporate additional climate initiatives that fit within the group of the ones we currently track.