Many S'pore firms don't see climate change as financial risk: Survey

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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 mandated last year that listed firms are required to include sustainability reporting on a "comply or explain" basis for the financial year ending on, or after Dec 31, 2017.

KPMG Singapore's head of sustainability advisory and assurance Ian Hong said Singapore's high percentage could be attributed to the high standards set under its Code of Corporate Governance, which incorporates sustainability considerations.

A surprising finding, however, 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.

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, the five economies with most of their top 100 companies acknowledging climate change as a financial risk in their annual reports are Taiwan (88 companies), France (76), South Africa (61), the US (53) and Canada (52), said KPMG.

"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 CR reports should be used as a tool to present an organisation's true value, beyond its financial performance.

Commenting on what the survey's findings mean for businesses, global head of KPMG Sustainability Services Jose Luis Blasco said: "Remember that from here on in, it's all about reporting your impact, not just statistics."