CDP deadline fast approaching!

Published 9th June 2016 by Lucy Haines

An interview with one of our expert CDP consultants

Take a look at our interview with CDP expert consultant Suzannah Sherman about how the changes to the scoring methodology have been received and see if she can help you can squeeze those final few points out of your disclosure before the deadline.

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Does the new scoring criteria reflect CDP’s effort to shift the focus from disclosure to action on managing carbon and climate change impacts and related performance?

It’s apparent from the new guidance document that CDP want evidence based answers, and this has definitely come through in the scoring. For example, it has been made much more explicit that a company should provide their own specific case studies or examples throughout their response, to substantiate their disclosure. If you were to say there is a risk of flooding at one of your sites, then CDP want you to state exactly how that would impact you and what exactly you have done to manage the risk rather than just providing generic statements. This method definitely helps to differentiate between companies’ reporting maturity.

Do you think that companies who have opted to disclose a science based target (SBT) are more likely to meet the A+ criteria?

Yes. Key leadership points are awarded for disclosing science based targets. The total available points for Leadership are much lower than the other bands and so this means that as soon as you lose 1 or 2 of those points it brings your overall percentage in this band down really fast. Those companies that have a SBT are more likely to be awarded those important few points in Leadership.

CDP is strongly encouraging companies to commit to 100% renewable energy. How have you seen clients incorporate renewable energy procurement in their disclosure?

This year there is a place shout about your renewable energy targets whereas in prior years the questionnaire was focused on carbon reduction targets. Many companies already disclose how much renewable energy they procure in their other communications, but before it was not easy to relay this information in their CDP disclosure. Although you do not receive additional points for committing to 100% renewable energy, you can still gain points if you exceed your renewable energy targets or purchase low carbon energy.

Is there one mistake you see lots of businesses make?

Not looking properly at the scoring methodology and guidance! Often when the questionnaire is drafted internally and then sent to us for checking, I find the question is answered in a way that the person responding thought it should be, but it doesn’t actually tick the boxes for what the methodology specifies. Read the question. Read the scoring methodology. Read them again.

Which changes have proved the most challenging for your clients? Are there any problem questions that have caused multiple clients to drop points?

It depends how mature their carbon reporting is as to what they find most difficult.

So I think that it varies, but I have found science based targets an area where many companies are likely to drop points, and the general focus on client specific cases studies and descriptions to be the most challenging aspect.

Can you pick the top 3 ways a company could improve their score? 

  1. Simply, understand what information you need to provide. The hard part is then finding the information.
  1. Points are available if emissions have been externally verified, especially above 70% verification. There might not be enough time for verification in the current cycle, but it is definitely something to bear in mind for the future.
  1. There is still time to gain more points for risks and opportunities. We have done this for our clients by developing an understanding of their business and then working with them to gauge what climate change risks and opportunities they might be affected by. Once we have identified the exact risks it is then a matter finding out what the impacts and financial implications might be and how to mitigate them.

The reporting season can be very busy, why do you think it is important for companies to respond to CDP?

Your final score is publicly available and Google have even begun to include CDP scores on Google Finance. It is also easy to for your stakeholders to use as a comparison tool between your competitors because all respondents have to answer the same questions. Ultimately, disclosure to CDP demonstrates a commitment to transparency and sustainability from the company.

I think it is useful for the company internally too; it can highlight weak areas in their sustainability strategy and give them impetus to focus on these so that they have more to say when the reporting cycle comes round again.

There is still time for us to help you improve your score. either with a review and guidance session or a response check. Get in contact with us to find out how we can help

Photo by @RobJBye

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