British companies plan to up spending on climate change

Despite the tough economic climate more than three quarters of corporate executives in the UK say they plan to increase spending on climate change initiatives between now and 2012.

Law firm Ernst & Young quizzed over 300 executives from 16 countries each with a revenue of over $1bn to build up a picture of how much emphasis the corporate world plans to put on the climate in the next two years.

Of those in the UK, 77% said they would up spending, slightly higher than the global figure of 70%.

Almost half of respondents said they planned to spend between 0.5% and 5% of their revenue on climate change plans – equivalent to $5m to $50m a year for a billion dollar company.

Doug Johnston, UK director of climate change and sustainability services at Ernst & Young said: “With all the uncertainty following Copenhagen, many business commentators were expecting the momentum in climate change investments to slow.

“Our research has shown something very different. Other market drivers such as equity analysts’ growing interest in climate change performance and consumer demands, are all requiring further clarity in climate change related business plans and disclosures.”

Energy efficiency topped the list of actions companies plan to take, with over 80% of respondents saying they plan to spend money in this area over the next year.

Two thirds of the executives said they would focus investments on new climate-friendly products and services.

Developing economies such as China and India ranked product development as the top challenge whereas industrialised countries in Europe and beyond said complying with regulations would be the primary issue.

94% of respondents of the global survey see national policies as important or very important in shaping their climate change strategies, higher than the 81% who recognise the importance of global or international policies.

David Gibbs

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie