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CDP Sustainability: What Makes It Vital for Organizations Building A Better Tomorrow

CDP Sustainability

The world is witnessing a surge in environmental awareness. Investors, consumers, and regulators are increasingly demanding transparency from companies on their environmental impact. This is where the concept of CDP sustainability emerges – a powerful tool for organizations to showcase their sustainability efforts and commitment to a greener future. 

What is CDP Sustainability? 

The CDP, originally known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, is a global environmental disclosure system launched in 2002. It has evolved into a comprehensive platform for companies, cities, states, and regions to report their environmental impact. 

Initially focused on greenhouse gas emissions, CDP now covers and focuses on a broader spectrum of environmental issues, including climate change, water scarcity, and forests. 

Participating in CDP disclosure has several benefits for companies. These include improved investor relations, reduced environmental risks, and a stronger brand reputation. 

According to McKinsey and Company, a strong ESG commitment adds additional shareholder value for enterprises that also exceed their peers in growth and sustainability. Transparency through CDP disclosure is key to demonstrating a company’s ESG commitment. 

McKinsey ESG Performance Data - Lythouse

McKinsey ESG Performance Data

CDP Sustainability Framework: Getting The Basics Right 

The CDP utilizes a standardized questionnaire framework for companies to report on their environmental impact. This framework provides a consistent way to compare companies across industries and helps investors make informed decisions. 

Here’s a closer look at the three key areas covered by the CDP framework: 

  • Climate Change: Companies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions inventory, covering both direct emissions from their operations (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from their value chain (Scope 2 and 3). They also outline their strategies for reducing emissions, managing climate risks, and seizing opportunities the transition to a low-carbon economy presents.
  • Water Security: Water usage data, water management practices like conservation and recycling efforts, and risks associated with water scarcity in their operations are reported. Companies with strong water security practices are better positioned to navigate future water challenges. 
  • Forests: Companies using CDP disclose their deforestation risks, particularly in their supply chains. They also detail their efforts to promote sustainable forestry practices and combat deforestation globally. 

The CDP framework provides clear guidance and resources to help companies prepare for disclosure, ensuring consistency and comparability of data across different organizations. 

CDP Sustainability Reporting Framework and Scores 

Enterprises submit their environmental data through CDP’s standardized reporting framework. CDP then assesses the disclosures based on a robust scoring methodology. This methodology evaluates a company’s disclosures’ comprehensiveness, transparency, and action-orientation. 

Companies receive CDP sustainability scores ranging from Leadership (A-/A score) to Disclosure (D-/D score), with Leadership representing the highest level of transparency and environmental action. Here’s a quick overview of the CDP scoring system: 

  • Disclosure (D-/D): This is the starting point for companies on their sustainability journey. More data points reported lead to a D score over a D-. 
  • Awareness (C-/C): This measure shows a company’s understanding of environmental issues and their business impact. A higher C score indicates a more comprehensive evaluation. 
  • Management (B-/B): This is given to companies actively managing their environmental impact. A B- score suggests some management practices but not leadership-level action. 
  • Leadership (A-/A): This is the highest score, recognizing companies demonstrating best practices in environmental strategy and action. This includes setting ambitious targets, developing transition plans, and addressing deforestation or water security risks. 
  • Failure to Disclose (F): It’s given to companies that don’t submit a CDP disclosure. 

High CDP scores can influence supplier selection decisions and enhance a company’s public perception. 

CDP and the SEC Sustainability Reporting Requirements 

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is actively considering new regulations for companies to disclose climate-related risks and opportunities. While not mandatory, these proposed regulations aim to enhance transparency and investor protection in the face of growing environmental challenges. 

The good news is that CDP disclosure aligns well with the potential SEC requirements. Enterprises with a strong track record of CDP disclosure are likely well-positioned to comply with future SEC regulations. Early participation in CDP allows companies to gain experience with environmental disclosure, establish a track record of transparency, and prepare for a future where sustainability reporting becomes mandatory. 


The CDP is a powerful tool for organizations to showcase their environmental leadership. Its comprehensive framework, robust scoring system, and alignment with potential SEC regulations make CDP a valuable resource for sustainability professionals. As the world transitions towards a more sustainable future, CDP is poised to be critical in driving corporate environmental action. 

Looking Ahead 

The CDP is constantly evolving to address emerging environmental challenges. CDP’s 2021-2025 Accelerating the Rate of Change Strategy Report shows that policy frameworks to reduce emissions, tackle climate change, and reverse ecosystem degradation are rapidly increasing. 

New areas like biodiversity and plastic waste are being considered for future inclusion in the disclosure framework. By staying informed about CDP’s developments, sustainability professionals can ensure their organizations are well-positioned for a greener tomorrow. 

For sustainability experts and ESG professionals, CDP participation is a strategic decision. Leverage CDP to showcase your organization’s environmental commitment, gain a competitive edge, and contribute to building a more sustainable future. 

Empower your sustainability journey with Lythouse:Get a free CDP readiness assessment today! 


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