COVID-19 drives business interest in sustainability

9th October 2020


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Sustainability is a growing business priority among large companies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, research commissioned by the Carbon Trust has uncovered.

Carbon Trust's second annual 'Corporate attitudes towards sustainability' survey found that 70% of companies believe that environmental management and sustainability priorities are likely to become more important due to COVID-19.

Even firms hit hard by the pandemic expect sustainability to become a growing priority, with 69% of those experiencing significant disruption saying it will be “somewhat“ or “significantly more“ important.

The research involved 453 interviews with large companies – a minimum of 1,000 employees, and over a quarter with more than 5,000 employees – in Germany, France, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, and the UK.

“The global health crisis is perhaps elevating the need for action on risk in boardrooms globally, and the climate crisis presents risks that no business can afford to ignore,“ said Hugh Jones, managing director for advisory at the Carbon Trust.

“Sustainability is rightly a growing business priority and the increasing demand for our services aimed at helping corporates to decarbonise and adapt for the future demonstrates that. Despite extremely challenging market conditions, this is one area that businesses are continuing to prioritise.“

Large companies in Germany and Mexico are most likely to think their sustainability priorities will become more important as a result of the pandemic, with 82% and 79% of those interviewed in each country saying so respectively.

The findings also show that wholesale and retail, construction, engineering and mining, manufacturing, and healthcare are the sectors that are most optimistic about the growing importance of sustainability as a corporate priority.

No matter what the sector, only around a third of companies expect there to be no change, or environmental management and sustainability to become less important.

Budgets for sustainability are also expected to increase as a result of COVID-19, with 63% saying these will get significantly or somewhat bigger, and only 16% saying they would be somewhat smaller.

Three-quarters believe sustainability will become more important to their customers as a result of the crisis, with almost a third saying it will become “significantly more important for their customers“.

“Organisations around the world are considering their role in delivering a green recovery – achieving net-zero targets at the same time as fostering economic activity,“ Jones continued.

“We know from working with corporate clients on their net zero targets and strategies, that many will be leading the way when it comes to achieving green growth and these research findings support this.“

Image credit: iStock

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