29th September 2015

Corporate Environmental Responsibility: The importance of being green in 2015

In case you missed it, last week saw the abrupt resignation of Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, following a scandal that could potentially affect over 11 million vehicles worldwide and cost the German carmaker up to $18 billion in fines. This is, of course, on top of the untold damage to VW’s public reputation.

One positive thing that communications professionals can take away from this is that corporate environmental responsibility is once again at the forefront of the global news agenda. The scandal has highlighted how seriously eco-standards are being taken in 2015, which is why it’s also important to recognise the companies that are leading the way in reducing their carbon footprint and showcase their efforts.

In recent days, under the shadow of the VW debacle, two reports were released that shed light on the best performers when it comes corporate environmental responsibility.

The Reputation Institute published its CSR RepTrack 100 study, a list of the 100 ‘’most reputable’’ companies in the world, in terms of corporate social responsibility. BMW, Volkswagen’s German counterpart, came 2nd due to its ongoing sustainability strategy. As well as investing heavily in developing clean energy powered vehicles, BMW is actually using wind energy to power one of the factories making its electric cars.

It comes as no surprise that Google tops the CSR RepTrak list. The world’s third most valuable brand claims to have been carbon neutral since 2007 and has an end-goal to power all of its operations using renewable energy. Following this year’s annual Climate Week in New York, other major corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks have also pledged to do the same. Google is currently powering around 35 per cent of its activity using clean energy, making use of solar and wind farms around the globe.

Back in Britain, environmental advisory organisation, Carbon Clear, also announced its latest analysis of the Carbon Reporting Performance of the FTSE 100. For the second year running, it was BT that was named as the FTSE’s ‘’greenest company’’, with M&S coming a close second. BT was heavily praised on its transparent approach towards its environmental responsibilities.

The Carbon Clear report suggested that 55 FTSE companies are now actively assessing future climate change risks to their business and that 38 have already invested in renewable energy.

On the face of it, this all seems like fantastic news. However, the VW scandal has shown that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Carbon Clear’s report noted that there are many FTSE companies still lagging behind when it comes to being green in 2015, going as far as saying that the overall results were “disappointing”.

With so many companies publically pledging to make a difference in terms of their environmental footprint, the VW crisis has shown that unless these pledges are followed by actions, the consequences will be dire.

In the CSR RepTrak 100 study, Volkswagen actually came in at an impressive number 11. It will certainly be interesting to see where the company falls in 2016.

By Calum Metcalfe, B2B Account Executive