Oil sands make the most sustainable corporations list

Canadian-based Corporate Knights announced its sixth annual Global 100 list of the most sustainable large corporations in the world. This includes oil sands players, Suncor, Nexen and Shell, and provides also other surprises.

In the energy sector (see table below), the selection of oil sands producers amongst the top 100 most sustainability companies seemed surprising. But perhaps this demonstrates the assertive leadership of oil sands producers in the sustainability debate and embracing of related tools. They managed to become recognized amongst the most sustainable companies (at least based of Corporate Knights’ methodology) without exiting one of the more controversial segments of the oil & gas sector.

Company Country Rank
Origin Energy Limited AUSTRALIA 56
Petroleo Brasileiro Sa BRAZIL 96
Suncor Energy CANADA 40
Encana Corp. CANADA 25
Nexen Inc CANADA 59
Enbridge Inc CANADA 16
Transcanada Corp. CANADA 65
Neste Oil Oyj FINLAND 85
Statoilhydro Asa NORWAY 67
Royal Dutch Shell Plc UNITED KINGDOM 20

Looking at the nine Canadian companies which made the list (see table below), it was probably not surprising to note the dominance of the extractive and financial sectors. Five extractive related companies made it to the list, but this did not include any of the prominent Canadian mining companies. The financial sector was also well represented and includes the Royal Bank of Canada. During the same week, RBC also managed a third place ranking in the ‘Public Eye Award', which takes Davos as a platform with its “shame-on-you-awards” given to the “nastiest corporate players of the year.” RBC’s was nominated for its prominent financing role of the Canadian oil sands sector. 

Canadian Company Sector Ranking
Enbridge Inc Energy 16
Encana Corp. Energy 25
Suncor Energy Energy 40
Sun Life Financial Inc Insurance 50
Nexen Inc Energy 59
Transcanada Corp. Energy 65
Toronto-Dominion Bank Banks 68
Royal Bank Of Canada Banks 71
Telus Corp. Telecom 88

Others have voiced some opinions about the methodology and weighting used by Corporate Knights which seem to create some interesting results. Bloggers like Eleine Cohen noted in her piece ‘Opaque Transparency’ that there was no overlap between the top 10 ranked companies and those companies which had the highest scores in terms of transparency. Elaine also lamented that only seven of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations had over 25% women directors - and two had actually none.

Perhaps one more point: a really interesting 'piece of the puzzle' lies in the ‘empty space.’ How and what are the other 2900 companies doing which were part of the original universe of companies but did not make it to the top 100 list - perhaps they deserve some public eye awards? What are your thoughts about Corporate Knights' "definitive" global 100 most sustainable corporations?