UK companies set to fall short on decarbonisation targets

More than a fifth or more of UK companies with 2030 decarbonisation targets are not on course to meet them, according to a report from disclosure platform CDP and consultants Bain & Company.

The UK Climate Report also noted that two-thirds of UK corporate emissions are not covered by decarbonisation targets, while the number of companies lagging was likely even greater when counting those which do not disclose to CDP or which have yet to set an emissions-reduction target.

The UK government recently warned the country was not on course to meet its end-decade goal of cutting emissions by 60% from 1990 levels, months before global climate talks in Dubai at which countries are being urged to set tougher targets.

The slow pace of change among UK companies comes as regulators in Britain, the United States and the European Union look to mandate emissions disclosures, with rules set to take effect over the next couple of years.

“It is concerning that the majority of UK companies have yet to set and deliver on targets in line with the annual emissions reductions needed to align with a 1.5° pathway,” CDP chief commercial and partnerships officer Dexter Galvin said in a statement.

“The fact is there are nowhere near enough companies taking the necessary steps to do this, even though it is good for business, people and planet.”

The report, which analysed 1,450 UK companies to disclose through CDP, showed 64% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions – those from a company’s own operations and those tied to its energy supply – were not covered by a reduction target.

For Scope 3 emissions – those tied to a company’s value chain – the figure was 69%.

Of those companies to have set a 2030 target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions, 21% were on course to miss their goal. For Scope 3, 31% of those with a target were set to miss it.

On a more positive note, the number of UK companies disclosing to CDP rose 130% between 2020 and 2022, and they were decarbonising faster than peers in Europe and the United States, the report showed.