Mining giant Gold Fields and banking group FirstRand have emerged as South Africa's top JSE-listed companies for disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data, scoring 93% on the South African Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI).
World number-one platinum-miner Anglo Platinum and private hospital group Medi Clinic Corporation ranked second, scoring 89%, followed by Nedbank in the third position with 88%.
"We are committed to sustainable gold mining and our actions on energy efficiency and carbon emissions are integral to the way we do business," commented Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland on receiving a CDLI award on Thursday.
"Mitigating the impact of carbon emissions starts with a detailed inventory of our footprint, which then leads to emission reducing projects," he added.
Four companies also received the best rating for their performance in climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, these were Barloworld, Gold Fields, Nedbank and Woolworths Holdings.
The CDP is a global project, which is backed by 534 institutional investors, representing some $64-trillion in assets under their management.
It rated companies on their disclosure of GHG emissions and climate change response strategies, and also on their performance in reducing emissions and adopting climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
The report was launched on Thursday and newly-appointed Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa commended the companies which took part in the project and voluntarily measured and reported on their emissions.
She added that the CDP, as a benchmarking tool, helped to guide sustainable investment choices.
Webber Wentzel partner Johann Stolz noted a "clear trend" that emissions were beginning to be monitored more effectively, in greater detail, and with more transparency.
"As environmental fiscal reform begins to bite, companies with best practices will be best placed, not only to avoid tax and other forms of liability, but also participate in the benefits of South Africa's transition to a low-carbon economy."
The CDP set questionnaires to 4 500 corporations in 2010, requesting information on emissions, on the potential climate-related risks and opportunities to their business, and strategies for managing these.
The South African CDP is in its fourth year, and 74 of the top-100 JSE-listed companies responded in 2010.
Of the 74 respondents, 94% disclosed their emissions, an increase from 87% in 2009, and 31 companies have adopted specific emission reduction targets.
"This suggests that, notwithstanding short-term concerns and pressures associated with the economic downturn, climate change remains sufficiently high on the South African corporate agenda," said Incite Sustainability managing partner Jonathon Hanks, one of the authors of the report.
The CDP report stated that South Africa's total emissions level has been estimated at about 500-million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), and this continued to be dominated by a few carbon-intensive companies.
In terms of direct local emissions, the data in the CDP highlighted the predominant contribution of Sasol - which reported total direct emissions of 60-million tons CO2e, followed by ArcelorMittal South Africa with direct emissions totalling 10,7Mt CO2e.
This was followed by Pretoria Portland Cement with 5,1-million tons CO2e, Sappi with 4,8-million tons CO2e, BHP Billiton with 3,4-million tons CO2e, and Anglo American with 3,05-million tons CO2e.
Although not a listed entity, electricity utility Eskom has publicly reported calculated emissions of 224,7-million tons CO2 for the year ended March 2010. This was about 45% of South Africa's total emissions profile.
The CDP report did, however, caution that most companies were insufficiently advanced in adaptation initiatives.
The South African CDP was run in partnership with the London-based CDP office and South Africa's National Business Initiative. It was supported by KPMG, Element Investment Managers and Webber Wentzel.