Asia overtakes United States in corporate climate disclosure, Arabesque says

LONDON (Reuters) - European companies are the leaders in corporate disclosure on greenhouse gas emissions but Asia overtook the United States to claim second place in 2019, according to an analysis of more than 2,000 of the largest companies by Arabesque.

The goal of capping the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5C, as enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accords, is almost certainly out of reach unless greenhouse gas emissions rates fall sharply in the biggest economies.

Arabesque, an ESG research and asset manager headquartered in Frankfurt, found that the quantity and quality of global corporate emissions data disclosure had risen between 2014 and 2019 but was uneven across major regions.

“The rate of disclosure has not been consistent across regions, and has been led by Europe,” it said.

“What is more surprising is the recent change in second place from the USA to Asia in 2019. This is driven both by a decrease in disclosures from the USA and an increase in disclosures from Asia,” it added.

The increase in emissions disclosure was led by companies in Japan, India, Singapore and Malaysia. In the United States, there was a decrease in the scope of corporate emissions data disclosure.

“There is still a lot of disclosure to be done in carbon data - and we are still far from where we should be,” Andreas Feiner, CEO of Arabesque S-Ray, told Reuters. “There are a lot of companies that are not in line with the Paris goals.”

President-elect Joe Biden has promised sweeping measures to make the U.S. economy carbon-neutral by 2050 to put the United States on a path to cut emissions as deeply as scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The bid to reverse President Donald Trump’s legacy of climate deregulation would likely start with some easy wins, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement.

“I expect the U.S. to take big big steps,” said Feiner, adding that he expected Biden to make significant moves towards tackling emissions in the world’s largest economy.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison