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Nearly half of all FTSE companies failing to act on carbon emissions

Nearly half of the UK's top companies do not have targets on greenhouse gas emissions, despite years of legislation and campaigning on the issue, a study by the Carbon Trust has found.

Forty of the FTSE 100 either lack numerical targets on carbon dioxide, or their targets are for previous years and have now expired, without being renewed. This contrasts strongly with the UK's legislation on carbon dioxide, under which the government has set some of the world's most stringent targets on emissions reductions stretching to the 2020s and beyond.

Most of the carbon reduction targets that FTSE 100 companies have set for themselves are short-term, with goals for 2011 and 2013. About one-fifth relate to goals in 2018 or later.

One of the success stories of the legislation is Kingfisher, the UK parent company of B&Q, whose chief executive Ian Cheshire said the company's early embrace of stringent carbon goals has paid dividends. "Publishing definite targets and concrete objectives has helped to raise the bar," he said. "It's gone from a generic thing that people think is vaguely good to something measurable."

In Cheshire's case, the measurement is crucial: part of his bonus is dependent on the company meeting certain environmental goals, including selling a certain amount of "eco-products" which help consumers reduce their environmental footprints. Last year, the company sold more than £1bn worth of the products – enough to ensure Cheshire met his bonus criteria.

The result of taking such a strong stance has been felt throughout the company, he said. "You don't want to be the one who tells the chief executive he's not going to make his bonus because the figures aren't good enough," he said.

Source : Fiona Harvey -

17 June 2011
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