Updated Carbon Disclosure Ratings in Google Finance

5/2/12 | 12:00:00 PM

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With a background in physics and sustainability, and a stint as a math teacher in Morocco, I never imagined I would end up at a technology company like Google. But as I approach my fifth anniversary here, I’ve been thinking back on all the projects I’ve been a part of as a member of the Energy team. One that I’m most proud of is a collaboration with the Google Finance team and the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to put companies’ carbon disclosure ratings into Google Finance alongside financial data. Specifically, these ratings quantify how well a company measures and reports its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to what degree it is aware of the risks and opportunities climate change poses to its business. The scores -- which the Google Finance team just updated for 2011 -- are listed as “Carbon Disclosure Rating” and appear in the “Key stats and ratios” box on the right side of a company’s Google Finance page:

    

There are two things that made this an exciting project for me. First, what started out as an idea in the mind of one Googler became a live feature in a product used by millions of people every day. And second, the launch of this feature in April 2010 marked the first time that individual investors could freely access this kind of information in conjunction with financial data.

Why would investors be interested in a company’s carbon disclosure rating? We thought it would be useful because a company’s emissions, as well as climate change more generally, can pose financial risks -- and investors generally like to understand such risks. These risks can take several forms: from regulatory risks (e.g. legislation placing costs on carbon-intensive activities) to physical risks (e.g. sea-level rise threatening a company’s facilities) to market risks (e.g. consumers switching to another company’s products because they believe that company to be a better environmental steward). All of these factors (and others) go into CDP’s calculation of a company’s carbon score, so it can be a useful metric for investors.

As I begin my sixth year at Google, I’m excited that we’re making environmental information more universally accessible and useful, and I’m looking forward to the projects and challenges ahead.

Posted by Sam Arons, Carbon Maven