European Carbon Transparency Survey

Beginning in January 2019, Quercus Altmetrics launches its first European Carbon Transparency Survey (ECTS). The objective is to get in touch with the 600 largest European public companies and retrieve their net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a homogeneous format so that we may compare them. The data extracted from the survey will allow investors to compute the carbon footprint of their portfolios and will help reporting companies to assess their position relative to their peers.

Why a survey?

The only available source of information on greenhouse gas emissions from public companies are their annual corporate responsibility/sustainability reports as well as some supplementary reports published on their websites. Not only it proves extremely long and burdensome to gather all this data in a single database but the lack of homogeneity of reporting practices sometimes makes it difficult to interpret the figures published.

Typically, most companies report their emissions in metric tons of CO2 equivalent but some would only report thousands or millions of tons. On some occasions the distinction between direct (scope 1) and indirect (scopes 2 and 3) emissions is a bit foggy. Also, some companies only report intensity measures (that is, for instance, emissions per employee or per monetary unit of revenue). Lastly and just to limit this list to the most common cases, it is not always clear if the figures provided cover the whole reporting company or just a fraction of it.

Therefore, it clearly appears that we need to build a direct connection with reporting entities to retrieve homogeneous—and therefore comparable—data.

Benefits for reporting companies

But, apart from a laudable effort of transparency or regulatory constraints, why would anyone respond to our survey? Here are our answers:

  • First, there is a huge demand from investors for that data. By responding to our survey, you’ll avoid hundreds of redundant enquiries and you won’t be penalized for a lack of transparency.
  • Second, it’s a very limited workload: we just need a few figures that you probably already have and you won’t hear of us more than four times a year (and most of the time, it won’t require any action from you).
  • Lastly, we offer a 50% discount on our benchmarking services to all responding companies. This will allow you to get a clear picture of where you stand relative to your competitors and may also serve as a valuable communication tool.

In addition to the above, we offer to people working in the corporate responsibility/sustainability area the opportunity to be added to our European ESG directory. Any member of that directory is entitled to receive a free copy.

Information requested

For the last annual reporting period, companies are requested to provide a very basic set of information:

  • Direct emissions (scope 1): direct GHG emissions that occur from sources that are owned or controlled by the company;
  • Indirect emissions (scope 2): GHG emissions from electricity purchased;
  • Indirect emissions (scope 3): other indirect GHG emissions (production and transportation of purchased materials, use of sold products and services etc.);
  • Total offsets: initiatives taken by the company to compensate unavoidable GHG emissions.

Knowing that:

  • The definition of the scopes (1, 2 and 3) must follow the latest recommendations of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (corporate standard).
  • All data should be reported in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) over a one-year reporting period;
  • Offsets must be verified with at least one widely recognized standard such as the Gold Standard (GS), the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) or Green-e Climate.

In addition to this, we ask companies 3 additional pieces of information: the estimated percent of group emissions covered, a link to the independent assurance document (if any) and a link to calculation details.

Our first European Carbon Survey has been sent to all the member companies of the STOXX 600 index but isn’t intended to be limited to this list. If your company is part of the index but you haven’t received an email from us or, if your company isn’t part of the index but you would like to participate anyway, please contact us.