CDP climate change questionnaire
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Introduction to CDP's climate change program and questionnaire
Improving corporate awareness through measurement and disclosure is essential to the effective management of climate change risk. CDP’s climate change questionnaire collects climate-related data from the world’s largest companies on behalf of over 590 institutional investor signatories with a combined US$110 trillion in assets and 200+ major purchasers with over US$5.5 trillion in procurement spend. Since its launch in 2002, the questionnaire has helped thousands of companies to measure their impacts, set ambitious targets and demonstrate progress for key stakeholders.
The questionnaire has been evolving over time in line with the latest climate science and global policy development. The 2015 Paris Agreement was a tipping point in the global approach to climate change. By agreeing to limit global temperature rises to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit warming to under 1.5°C, governments have committed to a transition to a net-zero carbon economy. This transition will create winners and losers within and across business sectors, as the manifestation of climate-related opportunities and risks accelerates in both size and scope. Business as usual will not be a good indicator of how companies will perform.
Regulators have begun to respond to the climate risks, notably with the recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Established by the Financial Stability Board, the TCFD has moved the climate disclosure agenda forward by emphasizing the link between climate-related risk and financial stability. The Task Force has recommended that both companies and investors disclose climate change information. This includes whether they are conducting scenario analysis in line with a 1.5°C pathway and then setting out how climate-related issues impact their strategy and financial planning. This amplifies the longstanding call from CDP’s investor signatories for companies to disclose comprehensive, comparable environmental data in their mainstream reports, driving climate-related risk management further into the boardroom. CDP’s climate change questionnaire has been aligned with the TCFD recommendations since 2018 and prompts companies to disclose data on how climate-related issues are addressed in their governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.
In its first two decades, CDP’s climate change questionnaire focused on raising ambition around climate and providing data to improve governance and decision-making. But time is fast running out to prevent catastrophic climate change, and an irreversible loss of nature and habitats. There is now an urgent need to ensure that stated intentions are accompanied by concrete plans, with transition metrics, and evidence of progress against agreed goals. Accountability is needed to raise the bar to align with halving emissions, shifting towards nature positivity by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions and full nature recovery by 2050. In line with CDP’s 2021-2025 strategy, the climate change questionnaire and scoring will be evolving to further encourage and support companies to set targets and create tangible transition plans, as well as to measure their performance against them.
Carbon emissions are only one part of the challenge. The climate and nature crises need to be addressed simultaneously, including by conserving, protecting, and restoring ecosystems, adopting more sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, and ensuring a circular economy. In line with the 2021-2025 strategy, CDP begins broadening the environmental issues covered in its questionnaires, starting with the inclusion of questions on companies’ approach to maintaining and addressing biodiversity. As a first step in 2022, broad questions around governance, commitments, monitoring and reporting on biodiversity issues are included in a new module in the climate change questionnaire. These questions are material to all sectors and geographies and responses will inform future biodiversity metrics, ensuring the relevance and usefulness of biodiversity corporate reporting to both financial institutions and policy makers. The new biodiversity questions were developed in alignment with the IUCN’s Corporate Reporting on Biodiversity Guidelines.
Climate change questionnaire structure
There are 15 modules in the general climate change questionnaire, including the Introduction and Signoff modules, plus a module presented only to organizations that are responding to a customer request from one or more CDP Supply Chain Members. The journey through CDP’s general climate change questionnaire includes the following:
- Risks and opportunities
- Business strategy
- Targets and performance
- Emissions methodology
- Emissions data
- Additional metrics
- Carbon pricing
The structure of the CDP climate change questionnaire was redesigned in 2018 in response to market needs and trends in corporate climate change reporting. Revisions included the inclusion of the TCFD recommendations, an increased emphasis on forward-looking metrics, improved alignment with other reporting frameworks, and the integration of sector-specific questions.
For climate change, CDP has incorporated sector-specific questions for 16 high-impact sectors.
All question numbers in the general climate change questionnaire begin with the letter C. Introduced in 2022, question numbers in the new forests and water module for financial services organizations only, begin with the letters FW. Questions that are unique to companies in a particular sector are labelled using a two-letter abbreviation within the question number. These abbreviations are noted below.
2022 climate change sectors:
- Agriculture: Agriculture commodities (AC); Food, beverage & tobacco (FB); Paper & forestry (PF)
- Energy: Coal (CO); Electric utilities (EU); Oil & gas (OG)
- Financial: Financial services (FS)
- Materials: Cement (CE); Capital goods (CG); Chemicals (CH); Construction (CN); Metals & mining (MM); Real estate (RE); Steel (ST)
- Transport: Transport services (TS); Transport OEMs (TO)
Climate change questionnaire changes in 2022
In 2022, CDP has revised questions and introduced new questions on topics which reflect the strategic priorities for CDP and its stakeholders. However, 70% of the 2021 questions remain unchanged. A detailed document on climate change question changes from 2021 to 2022 can be found on the Guidance page of the website.
Key changes include:
Core and supply chain questions
- Ten removed questions for all companies, plus two questions removed from the supply chain module.
- New module on biodiversity for all companies: C15 Biodiversity.
- New question in module C1 Governance on board-level competence on climate-related issues.
- Questions modified in module C3 Business strategy on climate transition plans and scenario analysis, and new questions on transition-aligned spending/revenue.
- Questions modified in module C4 Targets and Performance on targets and low-carbon products.
- Module C5 on Emissions methodology updated, with new questions on changes in the reporting year, base year recalculations, and base year Scope 3 emissions.
- Simplification of fuel disclosure questions in module C8 Energy and new question on energy consumption breakdown by country.
- New questions in module C12 Engagement on climate-related requirements for suppliers, and a strengthened public policy engagement section.
- Twenty-six modified questions, including two modified supply chain questions.
- Six new questions for members of the RE100 initiative in module C8 Energy on renewable energy and low carbon heat, steam, and cooling.
Financial services sector
- One general question C1.2a (2021), and five sector-specific questions removed for the financial services sector.
- Forty-one new questions for financial services organizations, including a new module requesting information on forests- and water security-related issues.
- Twenty-six modified questions for financial services sector organizations across the questionnaire.
Other sector-specific changes
- Three removed questions on scope 3 emissions by relevant business activity area, for the Agriculture commodities; Food, beverage and tobacco; and Paper and forestry sectors.
- Seven modified sector-specific questions for Cement, Chemicals, Electric utilities and Steel sectors.
Revisions and changes are indicated for every question as: “no change”, “minor change”, “modified question”, “new question”, “modified guidance”, or “additional guidance”. “Minor change” indicates wording edits and revisions to drop-down options or a simple clarification, while a “modified question” indicates that the data requested has been revised.