Analysis of Climate-Related Information in S&P 500 Companies’ 10-Ks

The CAQ analyzed S&P 500 companies’ 10-Ks to understand their SEC filing disclosures regarding climate-related information, greenhouse gas emissions, and net-zero and carbon neutral commitments.


CAQ looked at the most recent SEC Form 10-K for S&P 500 companies as of June 2023.1

We analyzed 10-Ks from S&P 500 companies to understand what companies disclosed in their SEC filings about:

  • Climate-related information (e.g., mention of climate change)
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1, 2, and 3)
  • Net-zero and carbon neutral commitments

This analysis was solely focused on information disclosed in an S&P 500 company’s SEC Form 10-K, and does not contemplate climate-related information communicated by companies in information outside of their SEC Form 10-K.

The CAQ observed that the majority of S&P 500 companies mention climate-related information in their 10-K.

  • The number of S&P 500 companies mentioning climate-related information in their 10-K increased roughly 5% from a similar analysis of 2021 10-Ks.

Section of 10-K where climate-related information is mentioned

From 2021 to 2022, we observed an increase in companies disclosing climate-related information in Item 1A. Risk Factors, Item 1. Business, Item 7, MD&A and Item 8. Financial Statements. The majority of S&P 500 companies that mention climate-related information in their 10-K continued to do so in Item 1A. Risk Factors and/or Item 1. Business.

  • Less common sections of the Form 10-K where S&P 500 companies mentioned climate-related information included, Item 2. Properties, Item 3. Legal Proceedings, Item 11. Executive Compensation, Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services, Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules.

Overall, we found that when disclosures in an S&P 500 company’s 10-K included mention of climate-related information, the types of information included in the climate-related disclosures varied from company to company.

  • We observed that some companies disclosed actual emissions and reduction amounts, and others only disclosed their goals for future emissions reductions.
  • Some companies disclosed climate-related costs, which varied and included capital expenses, research and development (R&D) costs, and regulatory and compliance costs.
  • In 2022, we observed a roughly 11% increase in companies that disclosed a net zero or carbon neutral commitment compared with 2021. The net zero and carbon neutral commitments disclosed in 10-Ks varied from company to company.
    • Some S&P 500 companies disclosed net zero or carbon neutral commitments over scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by a certain date, whereas others also disclosed goals for certain or all scope 3 emissions categories.
    • In addition to the companies that disclosed a net zero or carbon neutral commitment, almost 50 companies indicated that they had a carbon reduction goal (e.g., a goal to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2031).

Climate-related mentions in the financial statements

Most mentions of climate-related information in Item 8. Financial Statements fell within one of the following types of footnotes:

  • Commitments and contingencies or Litigation – examples of matters described in these footnotes included climate-related lawsuits against companies alleging damages as a result of climate change, descriptions of the uncertainty of the potential impacts on companies that could result from physical risks or the risks associated with climate-related policy or regulatory changes.
  • Income taxes – some companies mentioned ‘climate’ or ‘climate change’ in relation to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”) often indicating that they were still in the process of evaluating the potential effects of the IRA on their income taxes or financial statements.
  • Significant accounting policies – some companies included climate-related matters within their significant accounting policies related to inventory (e.g., treatment of carbon offsets or treatment of wildfire damage to crops) or revenue recognition or renewable energy standard obligations.
  • Debt/Borrowing arrangements – some companies described revolving credit agreements that contained a sustainability-linked pricing component which provided for interest rate and facility fee reductions or increases based on the company meeting or missing targets related to environmental sustainability key performance indicators (e.g., related to greenhouse gas emissions or renewable electricity usage). Other companies described the terms of sustainability bonds or green bonds.

While less common, we also observed mention of climate-related matters in footnotes covering acquisitions, regulatory matters, segment information, stock-based compensation, critical audit matters and various others.

Example of a CAM related to Long-lived Asset Impairments and Re-evaluation of Useful Lives:

“…auditing the Company’s identification of impairment indicators and re-evaluation of useful lives involved a high degree of subjectivity, particularly given the Company’s decarbonization initiatives and shift towards clean energy platforms.”

GHG emissions-related mentions

From 2021 to 2022, we observed a 20% increase in the number of companies that mentioned scope 1, 2, and/or 3 GHG emissions, status, and/or objectives in their 10-K.

  • S&P 500 companies that disclosed their scope 1, 2, and/or 3 emissions tended to also provide some quantitative information such as their actual carbon emissions for a period of time, their actual reductions in emissions, and/or projected reductions in emissions by a certain date.


1. The data herein reflects the S&P 500 index from 2023 and the company’s most recent SEC Form 10-K as of June 30, 2023.

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