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Singapore firms fare better than global peers in sustainability reporting
SUSTAINABILITY reporting among Singapore-listed companies has begun, but more needs to be done in terms of recognising climate change as a financial risk, says a KPMG survey on corporate responsibility (CR) reporting.
According to the report, 84 per cent of the largest companies in Singapore are now undertaking CR reporting, faring better than the global average of 72 per cent. This comes as the Singapore Exchange (SGX) implemented a mandate last year for listed firms to include sustainability reporting on a "comply or explain" basis for the financial year ending on, or after Dec 31, 2017.
Said KPMG Singapore's head of sustainability advisory and assurance, Ian Hong: "Singapore's high percentage could be attributed to the high standards set under its code of corporate governance, that elaborates the board's role to include sustainability issues, such as environmental and social factors as part of its strategic formulation."
That being said, a surprising finding from the survey is that 75 per cent of the top 100 companies in Singapore have yet to address the financial risks stemming from climate change in their annual reports.
Additionally, only 17 per cent of local firms have set carbon reduction targets, which pales in comparison to the global rate of 50 per cent.
Globally, five economies stand out with majority of their top 100 companies acknowledging climate change as a financial risk in their annual reports. They are: Taiwan (88 companies), France (76 companies), South Africa (61 companies), the US (53 companies) and Canada (52 companies), KPMG said.
"Going forward, disclosures surrounding climate risk will expand further due to the increasing expectations of securities regulators, the investor community, and other stakeholders. We encourage companies to start with a full assessment of where climate-related risk lies within the organisation, and assess the current state of their processes and data quality for identifying and reporting on such risks," said Mr Hong.
He added that CR reports should be used as a tool to present an organisation's true value, beyond its financial performance.
Indeed, industry experts have weighed in that sustainability reporting brings about considerable benefits including cost savings, improved brand equity, and better employee retention among others.
Commenting on what the survey's findings mean for businesses, global head of KPMG Sustainability Services, José Luis Blasco said: "Firstly, get ready for more reporting regulation because it is on the way. Secondly, be clear that reporting integration is the new normal. . . Finally, remember that from here on, it's all about reporting your impact, not just statistics."
Just last month, Singapore's environment and water resources minister, Masagos Zulkifli, announced that the Republic will designate 2018 as the Year of Climate Action.
Separately, a carbon tax of between S$10 and S$20 per tonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be imposed from 2019. For now, the tax will be applied upstream on large emitters, such as power stations and other industrial facilities that directly emit GHGs.
The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2017 studied annual financial and CR reports from the 100 largest companies by revenue in 49 countries.