U.S. carbon regulation is looming, but many large publicly traded companies will be caught with their pants down. According to a report from the not-for-profit Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) and research company Trucost, a good 66 percent of companies on the S&P 500 do not publish adequate data on direct greenhouse gas emissions from operations and “could therefore be unprepared for mandatory reporting requirements.”
That’s bad news for the lagging companies, as they’ll be in a tough spot once the regulations hit and international markets get big enough to put them at a competitive disadvantage. Oil and power companies made up the bulk of the biggest carbon emitters. (The top five were Exxon, Chevron, AEP, The Southern Co. and ConocoPhillips.)
But it’s good news for the carbon and energy management software companies that have emerged as of late. Just yesterday, 18-month-old sustainable software-as-a-service startup Hara launched a tool to give companies and cities the ability to manage their natural resource inputs and outputs, with backing from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.
Competing venture capital firms have invested in carbon management startups as well. Draper Fisher Jurvetson backed Burlingame, Calif.-based Planet Metrics with $2.3 million in Series A funding, while NGEN invested in Carbonetworks, and Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Kinetic Ventures invested in Clear Standards (recently bought by SAP). Software giants like SAP and Oracle are rushing to launch their own tools to capture this growing market, too.
How big is the carbon market created just by companies on the S&P 500? The report found that if a carbon price of $28.24 were applied to each metric ton of CO2 emitted by companies in the S&P, as well as their first-tier suppliers, the carbon costs would total more than $92.8 billion.