Fewer than one in four of the world's largest companies are on track to meet basic climate change targets, according to a new study.

The survey of nearly 700 listed firms in 14 countries was conducted between 2015 and 2019.

According to British investment firm Arabesque, just under a quarter (24.84%) of the world's large listed companies have taken action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

European companies are the best performers, particularly in Sweden (50%), Germany (39.29%) and Finland (33.33%).

France is just behind (32.5%), followed by the UK and the United States (both on 23.08%). China (8.51%) and Australia (4.55%) trail behind.

But the study found that 15% of the companies listed on leading indices including the FTSE 100, S&P 100, DAX and Nikkei do not publish their greenhouse gas emissions.

The proportion even increases to 29% for the Chinese Hang Seng.

The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to limit global warming at 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and if possible, no more than 1.5 Celsius.

The 1.5-degree target is proving difficult to achieve but 70% of firms are expected to meet the 2.0-degree figure by 2030.

"Declarations of good intention by themselves are not going to lead to the required timely actions," said Arabesque chairman Georg Kell.

"In fact, despite the growing number of commitments, average carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased since 2015.

"This year is a potential turning point, offering corporate leaders a chance to think big and to act accordingly. But time is running out."

US President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual Earth Day summit today.