Ninety-five percent of the companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Top 40 Index have made commitments to respond to climate change and have senior staff working on the issue, according to a new report commissioned by the JSE
But less than one-third have reduced their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) significantly in the last two years.
“Overall, South African companies are responding to climate change risks. However, many are failing to take on the extra initiatives they need to fully tackle the issue. This could potentially damage their reputation and profitability as more significance is given to climate change globally,” the report said.
The results were presented at an event to announce the best performers on the JSE’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index, an annual event that ordinarily takes place in Johannesburg. Organisers moved it to Durban this year to coincide with COP17.
“We came to show our support for COP17,” said JSE executive director Geoff Rothschild. “Anyone who considers himself a responsible global citizen must make the necessary changes to live a more sustainable existence.”
The study, which was conducted by research group Eiris, also found that 73% of the Top 40 companies have an overall good climate-change strategy; 60% have short-term GHG reduction goals, but only 23% have long-term goals.
In a complementary report, Eiris found that more than two-thirds of all of the companies listed on the JSE met the minimum requirements to qualify as “socially responsible”.
Twenty-two companies qualified as best performers meeting criteria related to environmental, social and governance policies, management practices and reporting.