The most sustainable company
in the world

Change is possible

Corporate Knights’ Global 100 sustainability index

Each year, Corporate Knights rank the 100 most sustainable companies in the world, ranking the top 1% on corporate sustainability performance. As the only one this ranking is cross-sectoral, including industrials, financial, IT, consumer and healthcare sectors.

We’re ranked the most sustainable company in the world in the Corporate Knights 2020 Global 100 index of most sustainable corporations. A decade ago, we were one of the most fossil fuel intensive energy companies in Europe.

The Global 100 top rank is a humbling recognition of our transformation from a fossil-fuel based energy company to a global green energy company in the past decade. As the global leader in offshore wind, we’ve substantially grown our business while significantly reducing our carbon emissions. We have reduced our carbon emissions by 86%, and by 2025, we’ll be carbon neutral in our energy generation and operations. We also have a target of achieving a carbon neutral footprint by 2040. We’re reducing emissions much faster than what climate science outlines as necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

We must act now

Change is critical as the world faces the climate emergency. Science tells us that we need to halve global carbon emissions by 2030 to avoid climate catastrophe, yet emissions continue to rise year on year. Almost 75% of global emissions come from energy from fossil fuels, so fighting climate changes makes the transition to renewable energy vital.

While we’re proud and grateful to be ranked the most sustainable company in the world, we’re painfully aware that the world must speed up green action to stay below the 1.5°C limit for global warming that is outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Countries and businesses must take active, ambitious steps to reduce their emissions, and they must act now. We believe that our transformation is proof that change is possible. Read more about taking action in our paper.

Becoming the most sustainable company in the world

Transforming an energy company the size of Ørsted has not been easy, but it was necessary. We made the decision to change our business based on the realisation that fossil fuels were neither environmentally nor financially sustainable. Our key drivers for combating climate change are:

Phase out coal 
Our business was initially based on fossil fuels, and we were one of the most coal-intensive energy companies in Europe. But we dismantled our fossil fuel business and now focus entirely on renewables. We’ll completely phase out the use of coal by 2023 and generate nearly 100% green energy by 2025. Read more about our renewable energy solutions.

Offshore wind energy 
We develop offshore wind, onshore wind, solar energy and storage solutions, and are the global leader in offshore wind. Through innovation and large-scale deployment of offshore wind technology, we’ve helped bring down the cost of offshore wind. Today, it’s cheaper than newly built coal- and gas-fired power plants in most parts of the world. It’s a game changer that has lifted the offshore wind industry from a niche to a global and rapidly growing industry with the potential to deliver green energy to hundreds of millions of people.

 

Next steps: decarbonising our supply chain 

As we’re close to having eliminated the carbon emissions from our energy production, we’re now embarking on the next frontier in our decarbonisation journey. Our commitment is to halve the carbon emissions from our energy trading and our supply chain by 2032, as compared with 2018.

We do this by gradually phasing out natural gas trading activities while increasing the green share of power traded. We also engage our suppliers to reduce carbon emissions from the manufacture and installation of renewable energy. At the same time, we encourage them to set emission reduction targets aligned with climate science and to run their operations on green energy.

This will help us achieve carbon neutrality across the company's entire carbon footprint by 2040, ten years ahead of the global target for net-zero emissions as required by climate science to limit global warming to 1.5ºC.

 

The necessary green technologies are at hand, and if countries and corporations work together to really speed up the green transformation, we still have a chance to keep global warming within 1.5°C. As I see it, we owe it to the world.

- Henrik Poulsen, CEO, Ørsted

Read the press release

 

Building green energy in a sustainable way 

A world that runs entirely on green energy will halt climate change, spur social development and fuel economic growth. But the pursuit of this vision must take place sustainably.

As a frontrunner in the global green energy revolution, we want to build green energy in a sustainable way and avoid or limit any potential negative impacts arising from the green transformation.

For us, this means incorporating sustainable growth programmes in our business strategy, protecting biodiversity, paying fair tax, and promoting employee diversity with a focus on female leadership.
 

FAQ

Explore our frequently asked questions to find out more about Corporate Knights and business sustainability.

  • What makes Ørsted the most sustainable company in the world?  

    Ørsted has jumped up the Global 100 ranking in the past three years, from #70 in 2018, to #4 in 2019, and now #1 in 2020. The improved ranking reflects the substantial growth of our business alongside the dramatic reductions in our carbon emissions. We’re also the first utility to top the Global 100 since the index’s inception in 2005.

    According to Corporate Knights, Ørsted moved up to the #1 place in the 2020 ranking because the company*:

    • increased the percentage of revenue earned from renewable energy by 10% from 58.4% to 68.1% in 2018-2019
    • increased carbon productivity and water productivity by more than 50% due to cuts in absolute carbon emissions and lower water use combined with higher revenues
    • increased the percentage of female directors from 33% to 38%
    • paid a fair share of tax: 34% cash tax/EBITDA over past five years, placing the company in the 92nd percentile for this indicator.

    *These statistics are based on our 2018 data set.

  • Who are Corporate Knights?

    Corporate Knights Inc. is a Toronto-based publishing and research firm, comprising of a quarterly sustainable-business magazine and a research division that produces rankings and financial product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance. Since 2005, Corporate Knights has produced the annual Global 100 index of the world’s most sustainable companies – an authoritative and widely-respected index of corporate sustainability performance. The Global 100 index is announced every year on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    As one of the world’s largest circulation (147K+) magazines focused on the intersection of business and society, Corporate Knights is also a prominent brand in the clean capitalism media space. Their vision is to provide information empowering markets to foster a better world.

  • What is the Corporate Knights Global 100 methodology? 
    The Global 100 Corporate Knights rank the 100 most sustainable companies in the world, ranking the top 1% on corporate sustainability performance. The ranking is cross-sectoral, including the industrial, financial, IT, consumer and health care sectors.

    For the 2020 Global 100 index, Corporate Knights rigorously assessed 7,395 companies with more than USD 1 billion in revenues on parameters such as carbon and water productivity, emissions performance, rates of taxes paid and board gender diversity.

    The analysis compared the financial performance and corporate longevity of the Global 100 companies, which represent just over 1% of assessed companies, against the MSCI All Country World Index.

    According to Corporate Knights, the Global 100 index supports “the mounting case that sustainable corporate performance is consistent with equal or better returns for investors and greater corporate longevity”. They add that Global 100 companies consistently outperform MSCI ACWI companies on CEO-to-average-worker-pay ratio, board gender diversity, paying their fair share of taxes, and on various other specific metrics that factor into the ranking.
  • What are the top 10 most sustainable companies in the world?

    According to the 2020 ranking by Corporate Knights, the top green companies in the world are: 

    • Ørsted A/S
    • Chr. Hansen Holding A/S
    • Neste Oyj
    • Cisco Systems Inc
    • Autodesk Inc
    • Novozymes A/S
    • ING Groep NV
    • Enel SpA
    • Banco do Brasil SA
    • Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp

  • What is the importance of sustainability in business?

    Corporate sustainability and climate action are emerging as global demands driven by activist movements, ambitious politicians and bold business leaders. Moving forward, these demands will continue to guide consumer sentiment and loyalty.

    Faced with the existential threat of the global climate emergency, companies all over the world are beginning to explore more sustainable ways of doing business. They’re considering their long-term impact on the local environment, community and economy and asking whether their business makes a measurable, positive contribution.

    Business sustainability is not just a moral imperative, but also good business practice. Right now, going green is a competitive differentiator, but in the near future, it will be the key to staying in business. Investors are increasingly seeking out environmentally sustainable companies and look for transparency when it comes to the climate impacts of their investments.

    While there may be costs associated with transforming business models to align with science, the cost of not taking action is considerably higher.

    View Ørsted's sustainability ratings and reporting.

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