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Climate changes in the boardroom

Written by Josh Russell on Thursday, 13 September 2012. Posted in Analysis

It seems environmentalism and economics may be joining forces as a new survey shows climate change concerns are claiming more ground in international boardrooms

Business and the environment can sometimes seem to be mutually exclusive – it is only possible to be concerned about one or the other. Fortunately, at seems as though attitudes are a-changing. The annual Global 500 Climate Change Report from the Carbon Disclosure Project – featuring data from some of the worlds biggest companies such as Barclays, Nestle, the Goldman Sachs Group, Siemens and HSBC – has revealed that climate change is moving up the agenda in boardrooms around the globe.

The figures are certainly encouraging. Whilst almost a third of companies who responded to the data request reported they had made no reductions in emissions, 40% said that changes made were due to emissions reduction activities. Moreover 29% said changes in business conditions played at least some part in their decisions to reduce emissions. It seems a responsible attitude toward emissions has become much more of a part of the global business environment.

One of the biggest things affecting companies judgement on these issues are the proximity of physical risks – these are the tangible and appreciable affects of climate change on businesses, whether it be increased flooding affecting supply chains or weather damage interrupting gas lines. Whilst few could deny that these issues would affect bottom lines, with increasingly erratic weather being experienced worldwide the threat has come to seem much nearer than originally anticipated. Just two years ago only one-in-ten businesses felt that physical risks were having an immediate impact on their venture; now 37% are reporting that they’re experiencing the effects of a shifting climate. 

It’s not all stick though. Well over two-thirds of business are also acknowledging a positive reason to engage with emissions reduction – changing customer behaviours and the chance to boost their reputation make investing in measures to fight climate change much easier to swallow. Climate change is an opportunity for many large companies to demonstrate that they can engage with the concerns of their consumer base. 

Environmental responsibility: good for the economy, good for the environment. You can’t really argue with that.

About the Author

Josh Russell

Josh Russell

Our former editor, Russell was the man in charge of properly apostrophising our publication and ensuring Oxford commas are mercilessly excised. Our former digital doyen, he’s also a Photoshop pro, a dab hand with InDesign and the man to go to if you need a four-hour soliloquy about the UK's best silicon startups.

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