Research on carbon accounting led to the development of international benchmarks for corporate performance, more than £500,000 of business investment and a spin-out company benchmarking over 1,000 companies.


  • The research has led to the development of carbon benchmarks for supermarket and mobile telecoms companies, with investment of over £500,000 from major companies into further application of the research – including Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Vodafone, Haymarket and Brand Republic.
  • The university spin-out company ENDS (Environmental Data Services) Carbon has benchmarked over 1,000 companies for 20 corporate clients, including the market-leading trade publication Brand Republic and the international index provider FTSE Group.
  • In 2010 the international Carbon Disclosure Project launched the 'Carbon Action' initiative based partly on Mackenzie’s benchmarking research – recruiting over 90 global institutional investors with £4.5 trillion of assets.
  • The research has prompted a new initiative from the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, a network of 1,200 investors, to test the effectiveness of shareholder engagement strategies through a randomised trial with 2,200 companies.

About the research

Carbon accounting - which reports on a business's greenhouse gas emissions – is an emerging field with massive financial implications. The International Energy Agency estimates that responding to climate change will require approximately $1 trillion per year of additional investment. Carbon accounting is now part of the annual reporting cycle for most large companies worldwide, and has become mandatory for UK-quoted companies.

ESRC-funded research by Dr Craig Mackenzie, alongside work by Dr Francisco Ascui funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, has influenced the development of carbon indexes and benchmarks, and motivated their use by some of the world's largest index providers, investors and companies to measure and drive improvements in corporate carbon management. Mackenzie and Ascui, both at the University of Edinburgh, published one of the first definitions of carbon accounting and developed new methods for benchmarking performance.