Climate change soars up list of concerns for CEOs worldwide

21st January 2020

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Nicolas Desolino

Business leaders worldwide are more concerned about climate change than ever before, an annual survey of over 1,500 CEOs by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found.

Among UK chief executives, the findings show that climate change is now more concerning than populism, terrorism, protectionism and access to capital.

Almost two-thirds view the issue as a threat to their business, with a quarter now “extremely concerned“, more than tripling from the 7% that said the same in 2016.

And these attitudes are shared by businesses across the world, with CEOs in Sri Lanka and New Zealand most concerned on 86% and 83% respectively.

The research was presented at the Davos summit yesterday, with PwC warning that company boards will now need to assess their strategies, risks and business models.

“The impact of climate change has soared up the CEO agenda, said PwC chairman Kevin Ellis. CEOs see the impact across all aspects of business, from assets and investments, to products and jobs.

The findings also show that 54% of UK CEOs do not believe they are seeing changes in international policies to mitigate climate risks, with only 21% seeing effective change.

This is well below the global average, where 36% of CEOs believe they are seeing effective change.

In addition, one-third of UK CEOs are more concerned about climate-related regulation than other forms of regulation.

Despite this, over half agree that climate change initiatives will lead to significant new product and service opportunities, and three-quarters believe they will provide a reputational advantage.

UK CEOs admit, however, that they have more to do themselves. Only 57% have assessed potential transition risks, and just 48% have looked at potential physical risks associated with climate change.

With the UN's pivotal climate summit taking place in Glasgow this year, the UK can help set the world on a new course of action, said PwC UK leader for climate change and sustainability, Emma Cox.

It will require significant change and compromise from everyone – 2020 heralds a decade of decarbonisation and transformation like no other.

Image credit: ©iStock


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