Corporate carbon cuts put at risk by climate skepticism
The perceived failure of the Copenhagen summit and the climategate email scandal have dented corporate enthusiasm for carbon cutting efforts.A report from the Economist suggests that executives have less confidence than ever in governments' ability to deliver a level regulatory playing field and 59% of executives nevertheless agree that carbon emission reduction presents an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over rivals by creating new products or services.
The past year has seen an upsurge in public scepticism about climate change, following the perceived failures of December's Copenhagen summit and rising concerns about the accuracy of climate science.
This is one of several factors that has stalled corporate progress on carbon reduction over the past year, as highlighted in After Copenhagen: Business and climate change, the latest in an annual sustainability research series from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
This new report shows that the rise in scepticism is strongly echoed in the business world. More than one-half (52%) of executives agree that conflicting evidence on climate change means the jury is still out on how serious this issue is.
Just 31% disagree.
Roughly as many "sceptics" (those who doubt the science on climate change) as "believers" say their companies have implemented energy efficiency initiatives--not surprising given the potential cost benefits to businesses.
But far more companies with believers have actually developed new "green" products and services--and more than twice as many have improved the environmental footprint of existing products and services.
"There's essentially a divide in the marketplace," says James Watson, the editor of the report. "One group of companies is actively moving further along the carbon journey we outlined, while another group is unsure whether this should be a key focus. This rise in scepticism means a tougher sell when trying to make the case for environmental projects within a business."
Other key findings include:
After Copenhagen: Business and climate change is available free of charge at www.eiu.com/sponsor/aftercopenhagen
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