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An assessment of climate action by high-carbon global corporations

Nature Climate Changevolume 8pages10721075 (2018) | Download Citation


Corporations are an important source of GHG emissions1,2,3 and important actors in mitigating climate change4. This paper presents and analyses a database of corporate climate action that provides an up-to-date assessment of companies’ carbon management practices, as well as systematically benchmarking companies’ emissions pathways against international targets. Our analysis covers 138 companies in 7 high-emitting sectors, accounting for 21% of emissions from all listed companies globally5. While most companies have implemented basic carbon management practices, we find that less than half of them have implemented more strategic practices. Further analysis indicates companies separate into those that hardly undertake any carbon management practices and those that undertake most. Perhaps surprisingly, most corporate emissions targets in our sample are aligned with the Paris Agreement goals, although most companies are yet to set quantified targets. Companies that have implemented more carbon management practices today are more likely to have set 2 °C-aligned targets. Carbon management and emissions performance are associated most strongly with where companies are headquartered and their size.

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The authors declare that the data supporting the findings of this study are available in the paper and its supplementary information files.

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TPI is funded and supported by a group of asset owners and managers listed at www.transitionpathwayinitiative.org. S.D. would also like to acknowledge the support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, UK) and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The input of the TPI Steering and Technical Advisory Groups helped this research.

Author information


  1. ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, and Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

    • Simon Dietz
    • , William Irwin
    •  & Bruno Rauis
  2. Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

    • Simon Dietz
  3. FTSE Russell, London, UK

    • Charles Fruitiere
    •  & Rory Sullivan
  4. Church Commissioners for England and Church of England Pensions Board, London, UK

    • Carlota Garcia-Manas
  5. ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Sustainability Research Institute, and School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

    • Rory Sullivan


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R.S. designed the methodology for assessing carbon management practices, with input from C.G.-M. and S.D. The methodology for assessing emissions performance was designed by S.D., with input from C.G.-M., W.I., B.R. and R.S. The data were analysed by S.D., C.F., W.I., B.R. and R.S. The paper was drafted by S.D. and W.I. with input from C.F., C.G.-M., B.R. and R.S.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Simon Dietz.

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  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Tables 1–28, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary References

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