Ethical Corporation’s analysis of the latest reports and data

Pay scales for sustainability pros

Sustainability professionals in continental Europe are earning an average of £70,500 a year, a study by industry specialists Acre, Carnstone & Flag finds. Average salaries in the UK are lower, at £55,100. This is down from £56,400 in 2012. Professionals in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, meanwhile, can reckon on taking home around £65,700 a year. Working in-house tends to be better paid than being employed by a consultancy, with salaries averaging £63,000 and £54,000 a year, respectively.

Now in its fifth year, the global salary survey reveals that 90% of respondents have a degree, with three in five holding a master’s or PhD qualification. Most professionals (80%) are satisfied or very satisfied in their jobs. However, the survey shows women continue to be under-represented in the most senior roles, with men making up 63% of director-level jobs. The gender split is more equal at manager level – 52% men and 48% women.

Activists enlarge ambitions

Activist investors are setting their sights on bigger companies, according to a report by consultancy firm McKinsey. US-listed companies targeted by activists in 2013 had an average value of $10bn, $2bn more than in 2012. Ethically minded investors are becoming more active too. Since 2012, they have launched an average of 240 campaigns per year – more than double the number a decade ago. The activist investor sector in the US has around $75bn in combined assets under management, making them a relatively small fraction of the $2.5tn hedge fund industry.

Investor interest piqued

Almost nine out of 10 institutional investors say that non-financial performance information plays a pivotal role in at least some of their investments, according to professional services firm Ernst & Young. On a regional level, over two-fifths of investors in emerging markets claim that non-financial information is “essential”. This compares with less than one-third (29%) in developed markets. The results are based on responses from 163 institutional investors, more than half of which have more than $10bn (£5.9bn) in equity assets under management.

Ethical consumption on the up

The UK ethical consumer market is now worth £54bn, according to Ethical Consumer magazine. Driven by a 36% jump in the food and drink sector, ethical consumption increased by 12% in 2012. The boost comes despite a sluggish 0.2% growth in the UK economy as a whole during 2012. The ethical food and drink sector alone is now worth more than £10bn. Another fast mover in 2012 was Rainforest Alliance-labelled products, sales of which increased by 47%. The magazine’s investigation also finds that consumers boycotted £3.6bn worth of goods and services on ethical grounds in 2012 – a 37% increase since 2010. Top reasons for boycotting were human rights abuse and tax avoidance by corporations.

Clean energy inches upwards

Renewable electricity now comprises 14.8% of UK generating capacity, up from 11.3% in 2012 and 9.4% in 2011. Even so, the figure will have to jump to 30% by 2020 if the UK is to meet its renewable obligations under EU law, according to the UK government. Likewise, renewable heating will need to increase to 12%, up from its existing level of about 2% today. Notably, almost half of Scotland’s energy needs (46%) is now met by renewable power.

Philanthropy index

Nearly four in five of the world’s richest individuals say the need for philanthropic giving is “urgent” or “extremely urgent”. Rich givers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East identify the environment as a top concern. US philanthropists, on the other hand, put health at the top of their list of priorities. A notable proportion of givers in the US (22%) and the Middle East (29%), meanwhile, say personal ties and experience are likely to drive their philanthropic donations. The findings are based on a survey by BNP Paribas Wealth Management of 400 high net worth individuals, each with investable assets valued at $5m (£3m) or more.

Health proves social enterprise hit

Social enterprises in the UK’s health and social care sector grew by 121% in 2013, with a turnover of £852m, according to research by Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank operates a social enterprise index – the RBS SE100 Index – which ranks UK social ventures according to their growth and impact. Health and social care represents 16% of the index’s entrants. The total turnover posted by 1,033 organisations was £11.5bn, with the largest 100 accounting for £10.6bn.

Land pollution in China

China’s environment ministry has admitted that nearly one-fifth of its agricultural soil is polluted. The research found that 83% of the contaminated samples contained toxic inorganic pollutants, such as nickel, mercury, arsenic and lead. The findings emerge from a seven-year survey covering 6.2m sq km. They follow previous research in December 2013 that showed 3.3m hectares of land are too polluted to grow crops. China’s latest five-year plan earmarks 30bn yuan (£2.9bn) to tackle the country’s soil pollution problem.

E-waste woes

Only 13% of electronic waste is recycled each year, leading to vast dumps of discarded electronic goods in countries such as China and Ghana. Research by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition indicates that these two popular destinations for e-waste receive a total of 50m tonnes of unwanted devices every year. An important business opportunity is being missed, the coalition insists. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, recycling one million mobile phones could recover 22.5kg of gold, 24kg of silver, 9kg of palladium and more than 9,000kg of copper.

Organisation snapshots

IPCC’s latest scenario data

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds. According to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, GHG emissions need to be reduced by 40-70% from the 2010 level by 2050 to avoid a 2C increase in the global mean temperature. Diverting hundreds of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06 percentage points off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report maintains.
The findings are the result of about 1,200 scenarios generated by 31 modelling teams around the world. The overall report comprises 16 chapters and is the work of 235 authors and 38 review editors from 57 countries.

The footprint of food

New research by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation suggests that agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions increased by 14% between 2001 and 2011. GHG emissions from crop and livestock production jumped from 4.7bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents to more than 5.3bn tonnes CO2e during the period.

Methane produced by livestock during digestion accounts for 39% of the sector’s total GHG outputs. The next most significant causative factors are synthetic fertilisers and biological processes in rice paddies, which produce 14% and 10% of total agricultural emissions respectively. The new estimates indicate that agricultural GHG emissions might increase by 30% by 2050.

At a regional level, the FAO maintains that Asia is responsible for nearly half of all agriculture-related greenhouse gas outputs. The Americas (25%) are the next largest emitter, followed by Europe (11%), Africa (5%) and Oceania (4%).

On a more positive note, the FAO report says that net GHG emissions due to land use change and deforestation fell by nearly 10% over the 2001-2010 period – averaging some 3bn tonnes CO2 equivalent per year over the decade.

US emissions fall

Greenhouse gas emissions in the US fell 10% from 2005 to 2012, according to the most recent figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. The decrease is largely due to reductions in energy consumption and fuel switching from coal to natural gas. The US aims to lower emissions by 17% by 2020, from 2005 base levels. Carbon emissions have increased 5.4% since 1990, when the EPA first started its calculations. On the flipside, hydrofluorocarbons have risen by over 309%. US total GHG greenhouse gas emissions amount to 6.5bn tonnes of CO2e, the EPA’s latest analysis finds. Industry accounts for 20% of this total, behind transport (28%) and electricity generation (32%).

Corporate insights

Shell Report: show us the money

Oil major Shell, which produces 2% of the world’s oil and 3% of the world’s gas, paid $20.3bn in corporate taxes and $4.1bn in royalties in 2013. Excise duties and sales taxes connected to its products generated $80.9bn for national treasuries. Meanwhile, Shell spent $1.3bn on research and development and $750m on health and safety. According to its latest sustainability report, the company’s community budget and its employee training spend came to $159m and $304m respectively.

Adidas exceeds cotton commitment

Adidas sourced 23% of all its cotton from the Better Cotton certification scheme in 2013, exceeding its target of 15%. The sports clothing group has committed to source all its cotton from sustainable sources by 2018. Meanwhile, the company’s latest sustainability progress report reveals a saving of 50m litres of water through the use of its innovative DryDye fabric. Adidas produced 2m yards of the water-friendly material in 2013.

Unilever edges towards zero landfill

Unilever has achieved its target of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill in North America and Europe. More than three-quarters of the consumer goods company’s global factory network can now claim to send no such waste to landfill, up from just one-fifth three years ago. Unilever aims to achieve 100% zero landfill waste by 2015, five years ahead of its original target. Progress to date has saved the company more than €17m in disposal costs.

Corporate Responsibility Research  CR Cheat Sheet  CR Stats  CSR Cheat Sheet  Oliver Balch 

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