The top 100 Australian listed companies are performing well on climate and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) reporting, a major global study and Australian analysis by KPMG has found.

KPMG’s biannual study of sustainability and ESG reports of 5,800 companies across 58 countries, finds that 90 percent of the ASX100 recognise climate as a financial risk, compared to only 64 percent of the largest global 250 companies (the G250)*. This has risen from 78 percent of the ASX100 in the equivalent survey in 2020.

There has also been a significant rise, during the last two years, in the proportion of the ASX100 reporting carbon targets – 89 percent compared to 67 percent in 2020. The new G250 figure is 80 percent.

On the ‘S’ aspect of ESG reporting, 90 percent of the ASX100 reports on social risks to the business, compared to just under half (49 percent) of the G250. This includes areas such as modern slavery; diversity, inclusion and equity; community engagement; and labour issues.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 91 percent of the ASX100 companies who report, identify material topics or issues relevant to the business – significantly greater than the 77 percent figure for the G250.
  • 74 percent of top Australian companies are now reporting against the ‘gold-standard’ Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework, compared to 61 percent of the G250.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of the ASX100 now link their targets to the landmark Paris Agreement of climate change (G250 – 55 percent).
  • KPMG’s Australian analysis finds that there has been a gradual uptake of the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), showing how companies intend to transition to net zero emissions. One-third of the ASX100 (34 percent) now use SBTi – up from 26 percent in 2020.
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of ASX100 and G250 (46 percent) companies now report risks from loss of biodiversity. Banks, oil and gas producers, forestry and paper, gas, water and multi-utilities are the main reporters in this area.

In social and governance, the KPMG study finds disclosures continue to be largely narrative-driven, with few companies providing quantification or modelling of risks to the business.

Adrian King, KPMG Australia Partner in Charge, Sustainability, Climate Change and ESG Services, said: “The study finds a significant and welcome increase both in quantity and quality of climate reporting by the ASX100. The great majority are now detailing material risks and reporting specific carbon targets – there has been a substantial improvement from just two years ago, which shows that even largely in the absence of public policy directives, Australian companies are taking the initiative and meeting demands from their stakeholders, such as investors and regulators.”

“It is encouraging that almost three-quarters of the ASX100 are now using the TCFD framework for climate reporting and decarbonisation reporting – and the publication of the new proposed International Sustainability Standards, largely based on the TCFD framework, should see another boost to reporting in this key area. But while the large majority of the ASX100 report on the ‘S’ and ‘G’ parts of ESG, the reporting is mostly narrative and more quantitative details are needed here.”

“The research found two other areas for potential improvement. Firstly, there has been a stagnation in the numbers of the ASX100 getting their sustainability reports externally assured – with ‘greenwashing’ a growing problem, independent verification of reported data is important. Secondly, the percentage of companies who have a dedicated board or top executive member responsible for sustainability is still just under half (49 percent). Addressing both these areas could increase confidence in company reports.

Further details of survey findings:


A majority of Australian companies are setting carbon reduction targets, all of which recognise that they must reduce their own emissions to achieve them, rather than rely solely on carbon credits. Australian companies are increasingly linking their carbon targets to external global goals, with two thirds of the ASX100 now aligning their targets to the 2° target of the Paris Agreement.


91 percent of ASX100 companies identify material topics or issues relevant to the business, compared with 77 percent of the G250. Further, the majority of the ASX100 consider the impact on the company, its stakeholders and broader society when conducting their materiality assessment.


The survey results found that the rate of independent assurance in top Australian companies is 51 percent - down 4 percent from 2020 and is behind the G250 rate of 63 percent.

A call to action

Adrian King said: “New ESG requirements are driving a different perspective and set of conversations in boardrooms, causing business leaders to stretch their thinking and ensure that from the top down they are making strategic decisions that take climate and broader ESG considerations more into account.”

The global KPMG report, and the Australian research, outlines tangible ways businesses can invest in sustainability reporting:

  • Understand stakeholder expectation
  • Use materiality assessments to focus the content of sustainability reporting
  • Align reporting to mandatory or voluntary framework
  • Invest in quality non-financial data management
  • Understand the impact of climate change and social issues on the business

The pressure on businesses to report on non-financial metrics is only expected to grow as regulations evolve, the research finds.

For more information

Ian Welch
KPMG Communications
0400 818891