Some of the world’s biggest corporations are beginning to factor the likely introduction of a global price on carbon emissions into their business plans, in anticipation of international action to curb climate change.
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Data gathered for a new report from the carbon reporting not-for-profit CDP reveals that there is a growing corporate consensus that carbon will soon be priced, with many businesses already incorporating their own internal price.
Of the large listed companies that report to CDP some 150 have begun using internal carbon prices, ranging from $6-80 (£3.69-49.20) per tonne, to drive green investments.
Among them are 29 leading US companies, including banking group Goldman Sachs, tech giant Microsoft and oil major ExxonMobil, each of them pre-empting national regulation. In the UK, major companies such as BP and BSkyB have also disclosed an internal carbon price.
The survey, CDP’s first analysis of corporate attitudes to carbon pricing, also found that 638 companies believe related regulations present a business opportunity, rather than a disadvantage.
Some 212 companies disclosed that they are in talks with policymakers, urging them to push forward carbon pricing legislation.
Almost 500 of the companies that disclose to CDP are already regulated by a global carbon trading scheme, such as the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the largest trading scheme in the world.
A carbon price can be established using either a government-imposed tax on the sale and use of fossil fuels or a quota system, like the EU ETS.
Around 30 countries, regions and states have implemented, or plan to implement, a carbon price, though Australia recently scrapped its carbon tax to the dismay of environmentalists.
The CDP report suggests that corporations expect the tax method to be the preferred approach, ahead of crucial UN climate negotiations in Paris next year.
Next week, 125 world leaders will meet at a summit in New York to pave the way for progress in Paris. A coalition of private firms is expected to attend in an effort to pressure leaders to support carbon pricing, to help protect long-term investors and provide certainty.