Making the most of your 2017 CDP Climate Change response

CDP is an international nonprofit working to transform the way organizations respond to climate change issues and natural resource degradation. Backed by 827 institutional investors with $100 trillion in assets during the 2016 disclosure cycle, CDP holds the largest collection of voluntarily reported climate change, forest, and water data in the world, based on information requests sent to thousands of participants each year.

CDP’s climate change program is the most prominent of its initiatives. Each year, CDP requests information on climate change policies and practices from the largest global companies: in 2016, approximately 1,100 companies responded to the CDP climate change questionnaire. This level of engagement by the world’s leading companies is recognition that stakeholders, and in particular investors, are focused on climate change as a business issue.

This year, CDP Climate Change responses are due June 29th (CDP Water and Forests responses are also due June 29th). The reporting process can be complex and time-consuming, so it is essential to start the process early, if you haven’t already. To streamline reporting, we recommend the following when preparing a response:

  • Do your homework – familiarize yourself with the questionnaire, CDP’s guidance and scoring methodology, including any changes since last year
  • Plan carefully – treat the CDP reporting process as a project, forming a cross-functional team, preparing a work plan, establishing regular status meetings and enforcing project milestones
  • Use time and resources wisely – complete your annual GHG inventory and third-party verification as early as possible to allow sufficient time for quality review
  • Leverage your experiences – for those responsible for climate change strategy, CDP can be a vehicle to engage internal decision-makers and educate employees

CDP made minimal changes to the Climate Change questionnaire in 2017, retaining the overall format of the questionnaire and updating a limited number of questions. Changes are generally focused on clarifying questionnaire guidance and minimizing the overall reporting burden. In some cases additional information is requested of responding companies. A list of significant changes to the Climate Change questionnaire and opportunities to demonstrate best practices can be found in our recent white paper, Making the Most of CDP Climate Change.

In addition to updating questions, CDP has increased the thresholds for scoring. The threshold to move within scoring levels has increased from 40% to 45% while the threshold to move between scoring levels has increased from 75% to 80%. For example, if your organization receives a score of 90% on Disclosure, you will then be scored on Awareness. Subsequently, if you receive a score of 60% on Awareness, you will not be scored on Management or Leadership. Within each level, organizations that score below 44% will receive a letter score with a minus qualifier (“-“).

The modified scoring thresholds also apply to CDP Water and is one of the most significant changes made to the Water questionnaire for 2017. For CDP Supply Chain, a ‘Supplier Engagement Rating’ has been introduced to evaluate the supplier engagement practices of companies responding to the supply chain questionnaire. If you are a CDP Supply Chain member, improving your CDP Climate Change score will also help improve your Supplier Engagement Rating, as explained in our recent blog post on the topic.

Interested in learning more about CDP? Check out our website for guidance and perspective informed by our support to over 100 clients since CDP’s inception. WSP is proud to be a consultancy partner in the US to CDP’s Climate Change, Water, and Cities programs.

Download our whitepaper: Making the Most of CDP Climate Change.

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