Four Tips to Optimize Your CDP Score

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At the unprecedented rate at which climate change is happening, more and more companies are starting to act with urgency. CDP disclosure is driving corporate transparency and helping to guide, incentivize, and assess climate action. In 2023, a record-breaking 23,000+ companies representing at least two thirds of global market capitalization disclosed through CDP. This is a 24% increase from 2022 and over 140% more than disclosures in 2020.

Whether you are new to CDP reporting or you are looking for ways to improve your previous year’s score, our team of sustainability experts has compiled a list of four essential tips, to help you optimize your 2024 CDP score. We’ve also included answers to your top most frequently asked questions regarding CDP.

Four Tips to Optimize Your CDP Score

1. Answer the Question Being Asked

While it may be tempting to just include a copy of your company’s climate change strategy, it may not receive all the points it deserves. This is because CDP has a very specific scoring system. Fortunately, they issue a comprehensive scoring guide which can be downloaded from the CDP website. By including keywords and structuring your answers in the specified way, your company can receive maximum marks for its climate change strategy and actions. You could also attach additional files such as your organization’s sustainability policy. This will help readers of your response gain a better view of your company’s overall position on these issues.

2. Research Similar Organizations

Collaboration is more than a buzz word in sustainability, it is an essential part of it. CDP recognizes this by publishing its Global 500 Climate change A list. This list highlights companies across each industry sector which receive the highest score for both disclosure and performance. So whether you’re a pharmaceutical company or a banking institution you can research what is being done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your industry. In fact, many of these leading organizations now publicly publish their CDP submission. Investigating these industry leaders provides you with tips on how to improve your score. Additionally, it can also provide inspiration and best practice guidelines to further develop your organization’s climate change strategy.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

The sheer volume of the CDP questionnaire can sometimes make the process seem overwhelming. For this reason, many organizations seek external help. Whether it’s to help them frame responses in the best way possible or audit their emissions to ensure that everything is up to an appropriate standard.

4. It’s Okay to Submit a Work in Progress

Organizations often believe they need to have the perfect answer before they can make a submission. However, it is important to remember that many of the participating companies are still developing their climate change strategies. By demonstrating that you’re engaging with the process you can help bolster your company’s reputation in sustainability. Even if you don’t have an answer for a specific section of the questionnaire, it is important not to leave it blank.  For example, if your company doesn’t currently integrate climate change risks into its business strategy then state this and explain how you plan to address the issue in the future.

Your Top CDP Questions Answered

How does TCFD align with CDP?

CDP’s climate change questionnaire is aligned with TCFD recommendations and now contains over 25 TCFD-aligned questions. These questions are within the Governance, Risks & Opportunities, Strategy, Targets and Emissions modules. CDP’s water security and deforestation questionnaires, inspired by the TCFD recommendations and organized in a similar structure, are also now covering topics such as Governance, Strategy, Metrics, and Targets. Continue reading about the TCFD here.

What are the disclosure options for first-time CDP responders?

If this is your first year responding to a CDP questionnaire, there are a couple of different disclosure options available to you:

  1. You can respond to the full version of the questionnaire by the scoring deadline (18 September 2024) and opt for a private score. This score will only be made available to you and to CDP and won’t be shared on the website or with Capital Market Signatories. However, it will be shared with requesting customers. This is the route CDP would always recommend companies take in their first year. This aims to help companies get a sense of what it is like to respond. Also, it enables them to check their performance before officially submitting.
  2. You can respond to the minimum version of the questionnaire. The minimum version contains fewer questions than the full version. It also doesn’t have any sector-specific questions. This will only receive a score based on the minimum version of the scoring methodology if they have annual revenue of less than $/EUR 250 million, and are not submitting a response to CDP’s investor signatories. Companies can check this information in their dashboard.
  3. You can submit either version of the questionnaire between 18 September and 2 October. This response won’t be scored, but your data will still be shared with CDP’s investor signatories and any other requests.
  4. Alternatively, first-time responders can submit the full questionnaire by the scoring deadline and receive a public score.
  5. Corporate disclosure deadline for 2024 disclosure cycle is on 2nd  October 2024. 

I am a company with an approved Scope 3 SBT. Do I need to report this target in my CDP disclosure?

Yes – to fulfil the reporting criterion for SBTi-approved targets through CDP disclosure, companies should report all approved SBTs in their CDP disclosures. The SBTi validation service does not currently classify the ambition of Scope 3 targets, so in most cases, companies should select “Other, please specify” in the Target ambition field. However, if your company is a member of the Business Ambition for the 1.5°C campaign and has selected Option 1, its commitment includes setting 1.5°C-aligned Scope 3 targets. The campaign currently considers Scope 3 targets to be 1.5°C-aligned when the targets result in a linear annual reduction of at least 4.2% over the target timeframe. In these cases, companies should select “1.5°C aligned” in the Target ambition field for the relevant target(s). Read more about CDP’s technical note on science-based targets here.

Don’t miss our upcoming webinar! Cority, with a guest speaker from CDP’s Corporate Engagement team, is holding a webinar to help companies prepare for the 2024 CDP disclosure cycle. Register now.