Business leaders prepared to build on Paris agreement with climate action, survey finds

With the ambitious climate deal secured in Paris being hailed as "the greatest business opportunity of the century", it appears international business leaders are already beginning to factor climate change issues into their decision-making.

Interim results of an annual survey of chief executives conducted by consultancy giant PwC discovered that just under half of CEOs (45%), believe issues of resource scarcity and climate change will transform wider stakeholder expectations of their business.

Moreover, the vast majority of business leaders (79%) are now implementing organisational changes to minimise the social and environmental impacts of their operations, while three-quarters are making changes to make their supply chain more resilient.

Confidence boost

The survey, conducted on 834 global chief executives, was conducted before the Paris climate deal was agreed. But interestingly, it found that less than a quarter of business leaders (24%) believe world governments to be effective at reducing environmental impacts – 42% believe governments are ineffective.

PwC sustainability and climate change partner Celine Herweijer said: “Business and industry is a part of the solution to a changing climate, not just on the receiving end of policy and regulation.

“What’s been agreed is a good result for longer term confidence and so business investment and planning. But the real signal to business will come from how national climate plans are implemented and some of these are more ambitious than others.

“An explicit reference to the role of business and the private sector in the Agreement gives the license for companies, boards and decision makers to design and implement low carbon economy solutions as part of their business strategically with a good understanding of the risks and opportunities for their specific business.

“Governments cannot do this alone, and it’s vital that at a national level policy frameworks are developed with business to deliver rational, affordable and progressive action on climate change.”

‘Just the beginning’

Yesterday (14 December), Unilever chief executive hailed the adoption of the historic climate change accord in Paris as “an unequivocal sign to business and financial communities” that a zero-emissions economy is now a realistic future.

“Paris is just the beginning,” Polman said. “Businesses can now press forward with their ambitious plans knowing that the governments of the world have set a clear direction of travel and will implement the policy frameworks to support them.”

Read full business reaction to the Paris climate deal here.

Luke Nicholls

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