By William Sherman, Client and Research Manager

Editor’s note: This post is based on the fourth 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.

As we reach the final weeks of the whirlwind of a year that 2020 has been, DGA decided to update its Corporate Climate Tracker to reflect any changes in corporate participation in climate initiatives since the last version published in the end of September.

The Tracker 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 six climate initiatives:

Looking at corporate activity in 2020, there are several notable Q4 updates to the Tracker:

  • Overall, 144 Fortune 500 companies are participating in at least one tracked climate initiative, up from 133 companies in September. This is 29 percent of the Fortune 500. 47 of the total 144 companies, or 33 percent, are located within the Fortune 100.
  • Companies that joined new initiatives include Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, American Express, PayPal, Waste Management, Uber Technologies, Crown Holdings, Ball Corporation, United Natural Foods, Campbell Soup, Hanesbrands, Gilead Sciences, Halliburton, and Newmont.
  • The three initiatives that saw an increase in corporate presence were: Science Based Targets (fourteen new companies); We Mean Business (fourteen); and Ceres (five)
  • In total, this update captures 34 new commitments across the full suite of the six initiatives.
  • With 25 companies, the Financial sector kept its position as the top-ranked sector by number of companies participating in at least one initiative; followed by the Technology, Food, Beverages and Tobacco, and Healthcare sectors, with 20, 16, and 11 companies respectively. In fact, the top four sectors account for 50 percent of the Fortune 500 companies participating in the climate initiatives.
  • Twenty-six 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-seven 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 was a major news headline throughout 2020, from the forest fires out west to the flooding in the south to the hurricanes along the coasts. Given the incoming Biden Administration, companies should be hopeful for immediate and fundamental changes to the national climate policy landscape. It’s encouraging to see that corporation participation is increasing across these sustainability initiatives, and that trend should continue into 2021.

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.