Engagement activities led by the Ethos Foundation in Switzerland and internationally have resulted in an increasing number of companies setting targets to contain the impact of their business operations on the climate, but progress is still slow, the foundation’s annual reports show.

Last year, according to the report on engagement activities in Switzerland, the number of companies setting CO2 reduction emission targets rose to 77 from 58 a year earlier.

However, only 13% of the 77 companies have set reduction targets compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C and validated by the independent body Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), while 21% has a target in line with 1.5°C but not verified.

The report also showed that 84% of the 100 largest listed Swiss companies published their greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, up from 64% in 2012. Among the 150 largest listed companies, 74% have started to publish their emissions last year compared with 65% in 2020.

Among the 43 companies planning to transition to carbon neutral by 2050 some have not yet set intermediate targets, which is “unsatisfactory,” Ethos said.

The number of companies publishing a sustainability report in line with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has increased in 2021 to 45% among the 150 companies within the engagement universe. Only 42 companies in Switzerland verify at least part of their non-financial reporting through external and independent auditors.

Ethos conducted 450 engagements with 150 listed companies in Switzerland in 2021 through direct contacts on specific topics. The Ethos Engagement Pool (EEP) Switzerland saw an uptick in the number of members from 151 in 2020 to 153 in 2021 representing CHF280bn (€271bn) in total assets.

The Ethos Engagement Pool (EEP) International, instead, had 77 members with total assets of CHF217bn. It has conducted 544 engagement activities, including 384 within the framework of collaborative initiatives and 160 direct engagements, targeting 1,869 companies, according to the EEP International annual report.

In the energy sector EEP International has carried out an engagement campaign on decarbonisation leading the companies EDF, Enel, Engie and RWE to set scientifically validated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, it said.

EEP International pushed for 16 specific climate change initiatives last year targeting 1,094 companies. Its engagement activities covered 86% of the absolute emissions of the MSCI World Index, 67% of the absolute GHG emissions of the MSCI EM index and 74% of the absolute GHG emissions of the MSCI ACWI, the report said.

The latest digital edition of IPE’s magazine  in now available