Brand Emissions survey finds top brands silent on pollution

Survey reveals hundreds of big-name brands do not release basic information.

Big names: brands that failed to disclose emissions
Big names: brands that failed to disclose emissions

Hundreds of top UK brands have been criticised for failing to reveal the extent to which they pollute the atmosphere.

Some 252 big-name brands - including Google, McKinsey, Facebook, Burger King and Amazon - do not release basic information about their carbon emissions, it emerged this week. The worst offending sectors were car rentals, hotels and general retail.

Conversely, 121 brands have been commended for reducing carbon emissions in an open and transparent fashion. Among the best-performing were Tesco, T-Mobile, Dell and BMW. These brands also had ambitious targets in line with the UK Government's Copenhagen goal of 34 per cent carbon emissions reductions by 2020.

The results formed part of the first annual Brand Emissions survey of carbon performance, conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

The team conducted detailed analysis of more than 600 of the UK's biggest brands to identify which were leading on carbon emissions reductions and which were lagging behind.

Project director Craig Mackenzie said: 'The 100-plus leading brands show just how much can be done if you set your mind to it.

'But to keep global temperatures within the 2 degsC safe zone, we need all brands to demonstrate the same level of ambition and achievement as these leaders.'

Corporate responsibility experts said pressure was mounting on brands to be open about their emissions.

Ogilvy PR EMEA managing director Ash Coleman-Smith said: 'I think transparency is critical. If companies don't act transparently, there will be increasing attempts by those outside to make "expert" guesses that may be wildly inaccurate but become the truth in the absence of anything from the businesses themselves.'

Open Road chief executive Graham McMillan added: 'It is extremely important that brands report their carbon emissions. It is one of the top issues facing us at the moment.

'Transparency is a good way of measuring progress. If you have no idea what your impact is, how can you manage it down?'

The Brand Emissions survey was commissioned by PRWeek sister title Marketing. It is hoped the survey will be conducted annually in the future.


Criteria for brand rankings

- Do brands deliver on carbon emissions reductions or rank top on emissions intensity in sector?

- Are emissions reduction targets above the Climate Change Committee target?

- Is carbon emissions reporting in compliance with accepted standards?

How brands were ranked

- Brands that met all these criteria were ranked 'brand emissions leaders'.

- Where brand-specific data was not available, brand owner data has been used.

- Brands were contacted to correct or update data.


634 - Brands surveyed by the University of Edinburgh Business School

121 - Brands praised as 'brand emissions leaders'

252 - Brands did not report emissions data

147 - Brands published 'some but not all' data

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in