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Now in Its 20th Year, Global 100 Index Continues to Track Higher Total Returns

Corporate Knights’ 20th annual ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations shows them tripling down on sustainability investments and reaping significant returns.

The annual Global 100 ranking devised by independent media and research B Corp Corporate Knights quantitatively compares and ranks the world’s largest publicly traded companies — equally emphasizing the impact of a company’s operations and its core products and services on people and the planet. The ranking is based on a rigorous assessment of 6,733 companies with more than US$1 billion in revenues.

As a group, Corporate Knights2024 Global 100 most sustainable corporations invested 55 percent of their capital expenditures, research and development, and acquisitions in sustainable categories — compared to an average of 17 percent by large companies (more than $1 billion in revenue) overall.

“The Global 100 index has outperformed over time because Global 100 companies back up their green commitments with their investment dollars,” says Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights. “Sustainable investment themes like clean energy are growing exponentially; and the Global 100, across sectors, are help ing to drive and are poised to thrive in the low-carbon economy.”

Global 100 companies direct three times (55 percent vs 17 percent) more capital into sustainable investments as a percent of total investments and generate three times (51 percent vs 16 percent) more sustainable revenue as a percent of total revenue compared to the average large company. The Global 100 Index has also continually tracked higher total returns (net USD) since its inception in 2005, returning 295 percent (vs 278 percent for the MSCI ACWI) as of the end of 2023. This is particularly notable as the Global 100 have no exposure to weapons or traditional fossil-fuel stocks, which have suffered from geopolitical instability over the past two years.

This year, 106-year-old Australian scrap metal recycler Sims Ltd emerged as 2024’s most sustainable corporation. While its environmental track record is not pristine, it has made significant investments and divestitures in recent years to improve its performance — and has set targets to transition entirely to the use of renewable energy in its shredding and separating operations by 2025, become carbon neutral by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Matthew Malinsky, research manager for Corporate Knights, says the increase in sustainable investment is a welcome sign that companies are changing course.

“The fact that these companies are plowing more money into sustainable capital expenditure and R&D means that we expect them to have higher sustainable revenues in the near future,” he says.

What is the Global 100?

Since 2005, the Global 100 has been one of the world’s most valued and transparent rules-based sustainability ratings that emphasizes the impact of a company’s core products and services. It is the best-performing global sustainability index (ticker: CKG100), with more than 10 years of history. All publicly traded companies with more than US$1 billion in revenue are assessed across 25 key

performance indicators that cover resource management, employee management, financial management, sustainable revenue and sustainable investment, and supplier performance. Companies engaging in “red flag” activities such as blocking climate policy and contributing to deforestation are disqualified. Its methodology illuminates the corporate 'say–do' gap: Corporate Knights says only those companies making sustainable solutions a core part of their business offerings and allocating meaningful investments to reduce their carbon footprints make the grade.

Proving the business case for a circular economy

Malinsky says that the success of two Australian companies that top the 2024 ranking — Sims Ltd and Brambles Ltd — is emblematic of the growing number of companies associated with a circular economy, in which waste streams become resources or new products. Sims recycles scrap metal in 30 countries, and Brambles rents recycled shipping pallets and containers around the globe. Both companies score 100 percent on sustainable revenue and sustainable investment.

Corporate Knights also awarded a Global 100 “pivot prize” to Italian energy firm ERG SpA, which completed its multiyear transition ‘from black to green’ halfway through 2023 — selling off its last fossil-fuel asset after announcing its plans in 2013 to transition from being an oil-and-gas to a clean-energy company.

“When we first did the Global 100 ranking 20 years ago, the ‘green economy’ was a quaint idea,” Heaps says. “It is now the overwhelming driver of global economic growth, and we are enthusiastic that the Global 100 will continue to lead the way over the next 20 years and beyond.”

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