Survey Highlights Public Trust in Companies Addressing Climate Change

For nearly 25 years, EDF has been working with the country’s leading businesses – McDonalds, FedEx, Walmart, and others – to improve efficiency, reduce pollution, and drive business value.  Together we have proven that environmental strategy is good business strategy.

Now, a new survey spotlights a less-talked-about benefit to environmental, social and governance (ESG) management: greater public trust. An impressive 82 percent of respondents said their trust in a business would increase if the company provided greater visibility and transparency into efforts to cut down on emissions and mitigate climate change, according to new research conducted by Research+Data Insights on behalf of H+K Strategies and EDF.

The study also emphasized the value of business partnerships with nongovernmental organizations like EDF, with 51 percent of survey takers naming a third-party watchdog the most credible source of information about a firm's energy efficiency efforts, above news reports, the company's own communications and word of mouth from friends.

Our history of partnering with the private sector dates back more than two decades, and includes a first-of-its kind partnership with McDonald's to make the business case for recycled paper packaging over polystyrene foam, eventually leading to the end of the foam clamshell food containers and beverage cups.

We've challenged companies such as Walmart and AT&T to set and achieve aggressive sustainability goals. The world's largest retailer aims to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution by 2015 and AT&T is building on a pilot project reduce the 3.4 billion gallons of water the telecommunications giant's facilities use every year.

We also push our partners to be transparent in their progress and highlight industry leaders such as KKR, whose ongoing and annual reporting spurs industry competitors to catch up. The case studies that come out of our EDF Climate Corps program provide a similar positive peer pressure.

We know that energy efficiency and environmental management are good for business. But it's also what customers want to see, as evidenced by the 62 percent of survey respondents who are interested in companies' energy efficiency efforts and the 57 percent who say they're more likely to buy a company's stock or its products if it's making an effort to publicly talk about how it's becoming more sustainable.

Americans see climate change as one of the most pressing issues facing the country. However, only 35 percent of Americans believe companies are doing more today than 10 years ago to address climate change. What is the expectation? The study revealed that 91 percent of Americans believe it is important for companies to implement greater corporate sustainability practices, while nearly two thirds expect companies to actively pursue and implement such policies.

We think we’ve made it clear that the private sector needs to step in where policy has failed; business and NGO’s need to work together to lead the way in addressing climate change.