Photo: Illustration; Image by Maersk

Study: Maersk among 134 ‘highly carbon-exposed’ companies failing to include climate risks in financial reporting

Danish shipping major Maersk has been included in the list of 134 ‘highly carbon-exposed companies’ that reportedly failed to disclose how climate-related risks might impact them financially.

The list is part of a review produced by The Carbon Tracker Initiative,  a think tank specializing in research on aligning the financial system with the transition to a low-carbon economy.

As disclosed, no company used assumptions and estimates that were aligned with achieving net zero by 2050 or sooner. This was despite that a significant majority of companies had targets or ambitions to achieve this drive, the think tank said.

“In general, companies failed to disclose the relevant quantitative climate-related assumptions and estimates used to prepare the financial statements, even when they indicated that climate risks may impact these assumptions,” the report said.

“This is concerning since companies and their auditors often identified these same assumptions and estimates as both significant to the preparation of the financials and subject to considerable judgement and estimation uncertainty.”

The companies surveyed included those from the fossil fuel, mining, manufacturing, and automotive sectors that are focus companies for the investor-led Climate Action 100+ engagement.

The Climate Action100+ focus companies are key to “driving the global net zero emissions transition” and include those that contribute to up to 80% of global industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

They include big names like Boeing, Chevron, Shell, bp, Engie, Petro China, Rio Tinto Group, RWE AG, UNiper, and Woodside Energy Group, among others.

“The failure to demonstrate how such climate-related matters are considered in the financial statements leaves investors in the dark as to whether and how financial statements already include the impacts of such matters. This absence deprives investors of an understanding of the extent to which there is risk hidden in the accounts and incentivises firms to trade on unsustainable assumptions. Without this information, markets are unable to function efficiently ensuring that risks are properly priced, and capital allocated accordingly. This benefits neither investors nor the global effort to decarbonise the global economy,” the report further said.

Maersk has been a staunch supporter of the green transition, committing to build newbuilds that will run solely on alternative fuels. The company has set a target for the entire group to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2040 – one decade ahead of its initial 2050 ambition.

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As part of the commitment, Maersk has been on an ordering spree of methanol-powered containerships. Earlier this week, the company revealed an order for an additional six methanol-powered newbuilds set to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries.

With the order, Maersk has in total ordered 19 vessels with dual-fuel engines able to operate on green methanol. The container shipping heavyweight said that when all 19 vessels on order are deployed and have replaced older vessels, they will generate annual CO2 emissions savings of around 2.3 million tonnes.

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Offshore Energy has approached Maersk for a comment on the report findings and is yet to receive a response.