In this first article of a three-part series, UL’s 360 ESG and sustainability team will analyse and break down the foundations of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting.
The fundamentals of ESG reporting: Environmental
UL Environment & Sustainability writes:
Corporate reporting of ESG data is finally becoming common practice. According to the Governance and Accountability Institute, 90% of S&P 500 companies now publicly report their performance on ESG standards.
While ESG reporting involves disclosing data from an organisation’s operations in all three important environmental, social and corporate governance areas, we will focus on climate issues relating to corporate environmental performance.
Our historical impact on the environment
Human impact on the physical environment is becoming increasingly evident. Overpopulation, pollution, burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have all contributed to climate change, affecting worldwide ecosystems that we, and all species, depend on. The scientific community continues to find more evidence of how human activity has directly or indirectly contributed to the extinction of thousands of species in the last two centuries, compared to the millions of years over which extinctions naturally occur. As humanity grows and expands its footprint through the 21st century, we are changing the world in unprecedented ways.
Our environmentally sustainable future
Corporate environmental sustainability has gained momentum and grown in popularity in recent years. The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), a United Nations initiative, defined the concept of “sustainable development” in 1987. Sustainable development represents actions that “meet the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations.” Yet it took until December 2015, with the Paris Agreement on climate change, to assemble a cooperative, worldwide effort toward the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to that issue. The legally binding international treaty on climate change was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris.
UL’s Environment & Sustainability division works to advance global sustainability, environmental health, and safety.
We enable this through:
• Software platforms that help businesses track and measure environmental, supply chain, health, and safety management and sustainability data to meet regulatory and disclosure needs.
• Help businesses demonstrate the health and sustainability of their products through sustainable product certifications such as GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO Certification, environmental claim validations and transparency programs.
• We also support the transition of businesses from linear economy mindsets and practices to a more sustainable, circular approach that can uncover significant hidden value.