How a not-for-profit charity is helping Apple, Goldman Sachs and others to embrace renewables

Key Points
  • Formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, the CDP is a not for profit charity.
  • It operates a "global disclosure system" which allows organizations to measure their impact on the environment. 
  • With offices and partners in 50 countries, the CDP has a global reach.
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How a not-for-profit charity is helping Apple and others to embrace renewables

The CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, is a not-for-profit charity. It operates a "global disclosure system" which allows businesses, states, regions and cities to "measure and manage" their impact on the environment.

With offices and partners in 50 countries, the CDP's reach is global. It says that, through its work, it has managed to create the "most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental data" on the planet.

Paul Dickinson is the executive chair of the CDP. He told CNBC's Sustainable Energy that his organization represented over 600 investors with $90 trillion of assets, as well as more than 100 purchasing organizations "with trillions of purchasing authority."

"Those investors and those purchasers want to know the companies they are dealing with are not wasting money," he added. "So the CDP questions the data provided, shows whether companies are taking energy efficiency seriously (and) investing in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, which saves money, or if they're being wasteful and not attending to this important issue."

Dickinson told CNBC that businesses reported their "environmental accounts" to the CDP each year, in the same way they would issue reports on their financial accounts.

One major project the CDP is involved with is called the RE100, a global initiative made up of some of the world's biggest companies, all committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. Businesses that are part of the RE100 include Apple, Danone, Goldman Sachs and the Lego Group.

The scheme is led by the Climate Group in partnership with the CDP. "Companies commit to procuring 100% of their electricity from renewable sources," Nikki Bartlett, director of climate change at the CDP, told CNBC.

Bartlett added that over 180 companies were involved with the RE100 and that they represented more than 188 terawatt hours of electricity demand. "If they were a country, they would be the twenty third biggest electricity consumer in the world, somewhere between Thailand and Egypt."

While the scale of initiatives such as the RE100 is significant, there is still work to be done, according to the CDP's Paul Dickinson.

"Although the majority of major companies are reporting annually through CDP there is still a group of large companies that don't yet," he explained.

In June, the CDP announced that 88 investors with trillions in assets were targeting companies that were viewed as not being "transparent enough" about their environmental impact. These investors will look to push more than 700 firms to disclose information through the CDP.

The aim of this, Dickinson told CNBC, was to "make sure they join the international reporting system so the public can evaluate, and investors can evaluate, their performance on climate change."