Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Around 82% of S and P 500 companies published corporate sustainability reports in 2016, according to the Governance and Accountability Institute, up from 20% in 2011 and 72% in 2013.

The UN Global Compact expressed disappointment with the US decision on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, pointing to: increasing private sector engagement on climate change, with businesses committing to policies such as pricing carbon and science-based targets; expanding market opportunity for climate-compatible products, services and investments; and growing investor demand for climate information.

13 June 2017: Businesses are prioritizing corporate social responsibility and opposing the decision taken by the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to recent updates. Around 82% of S&P 500 companies published corporate sustainability reports in 2016, according to the Governance and Accountability (G&A) Institute, up from 20% in 2011 and 72% in 2013.

The increase in corporate sustainability reporting underscores the importance that companies are placing on environmental, social and corporate governance issues when setting strategies, managing resources and engaging with customers, employees and shareholders, according to G&A, which helps the corporate and investment community address stakeholder and shareholder sustainability issues and concerns. The G&A analysis, issued on 6 June 2017, is its sixth annual monitoring and analysis of S&P 500 Index company sustainability reporting.

One organization working to help redefine the role of business as a “force for social, environmental and economic benefit” is The B Team, which announced on 13 June 2017 that Christiana Figueres, former UNFCCC Executive Secretary, has joined the group. Among Figueres’ tasks will be to expand the ambition of The B Team’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ initiative, which aims to enhance climate action by companies and support implementation of climate policy by: expanding the number of CEOs and companies making climate commitments, and calling on other companies to follow their lead; supplying board directors with knowledge and tools to enable their companies to achieve net zero emissions; and helping companies understand the “just transition,” by developing company-level guidance to help workforces, supply chains and communities shift to a clean energy economy.

These announcements follow the US’ announcement regarding withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a decision that a majority of businesses have opposed. The UN Global Compact expressed disappointment with the US decision, pointing to: increasing private sector engagement on climate change, with businesses committing to policies such as pricing carbon and science-based targets; expanding market opportunity for climate-compatible products, services and investments; and growing investor demand for climate information. The UN Global Compact statement reaffirms that the Paris Agreement sends the right market signals to provide predictability, unlock capital, drive innovation and reward responsible companies. [Update on Corporate Reporting] [The B Team Press Release] [Global Compact Statement on US Withdrawal from Paris Agreement] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Reactions to US Announcement]

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