Publication / 02 Jun 2009

Carbon Risks and Opportunities in the S&P 500

Trucost’s analysis of the global greenhouse gas emissions, carbon intensity and exposure to carbon costs of companies in the S&P 500 Index.


The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute’s mission is to provide thought leadership at the intersection of corporate responsibility and the informational needs of investors. This study incorporated Trucost analysis of direct greenhouse gas emissions from operations, as well as company supply chain emissions, including electric utilities.

Companies and sectors are compared on both absolute emissions and carbon intensity, defined as emissions per million dollars (USD) of revenue. Carbon intensity allows for comparison of the relative carbon performance and exposure of companies of different sizes and sectors. Trucost also examined the potential carbon costs that could be incurred by S&P 500 companies if carbon pricing were applied to their emissions. This is a particularly relevant issue in light of the Obama Administration’s proposed carbon trading scheme, which would apply a cost to over 85% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

The main findings are that total emissions, including direct emissions from operations and indirect emissions from suppliers, amount to 4,307 Mt of CO2-e for companies in the S&P 500 Index with 34 companies in the Utilities sector accounting for the highest level of total emissions, followed by the Oil & Gas, Industrial Goods & Services, Food & Beverage and Basic Resources sectors.

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