Time to take the broad view

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Companies must take a wider view of supply chain sustainability, according to the latest report produced by Accenture for the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The report is based on a survey of CDP supply chain members which include Walmart, Diageo, General Motors, Unilever and Coca Cola. It covers some 2,868 companies, supplying 64 supply chain program member companies, disclosing their carbon emissions and approach to climate risk management.

Suppliers report that both climate risk and opportunity are at high levels: 72 per cent identify a current or future risk related to climate change; 56 per cent of companies identifying climate change related opportunities say that consumers are becoming more receptive to low-carbon products and services.

And for the first time the analysis has identified where emissions are generated within supply chains, and which sections of those supply chains are most likely to provide a return on investments in terms of reducing emissions and generating monetary savings.

The report highlights some of the work that has already been done. For example, suppliers reported 427 member-prompted organisational level emissions reductions initiatives, leading to the reduction of the equivalent of 2.3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

However, participants identified 2,186 customer-supplier collaborative opportunities that have not yet been implemented.

The report also highlights the fact that carbon and climate risks are linked to other sustainability issues, such as water and resource scarcity. By adopting a wider view of supply chain sustainability companies can use these as levers to bear down on carbon emissions, it says, suggesting that companies should look to reduce commodity inputs across the board to deliver carbon and cost reduction.

Water is another issue that needs to be addressed, it argues, pointing out that this is important to business sustainability.

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