Global C-level business leaders are increasingly concerned about climate change, according to Deloitte 2022 CxO Sustainability Report, as 79% of respondents see the world at a tipping point for responding to climate change, compared to just 59% eight months ago. Additionally, 89% of executives agree that there is a global climate emergency and 63% say that their organizations are very concerned about climate change.
The survey also shows that executives unanimously feel tangible pressure to act on climate change, as 97% of respondents say that their companies have already been negatively impacted by climate related issues, with operations being the first affected (48%). Besides the operational impact, respondents underline that stakeholder groups, from regulators (77%) to consumers/clients (75%) and employees (65%) are adding pressure to act on climate change.
Despite the gravity of the moment, there is a sense of rising optimism among executives, as 88% of respondents currently (compared to 63% eight months ago) agreed that with immediate action, the world can limit the worst impacts of climate change to the planet and move toward an improved future.
“Organizations, industries and countries are facing different challenges when it comes to finding the right formula to tackle climate change yet an approach that urges actors to envision both the risks of inaction and the opportunities related to the sustainability agenda might be the way to drive climate considerations into every part of the business. Organizations will need to develop plans with measurable targets and prioritize climate metrics in the same way they approach operating ones, such that to encourage a more collaborative approach inside their ecosystems and enhance their impact beyond their own operations,” stated Alexandru Reff, Country Managing Partner, Deloitte Romania and Moldova.
Companies are taking actions when it comes to tackling climate change impact, the report points out, as executives say that their organizations are using more sustainable materials (67%), increasing the efficiency of energy use (66%), training employees on their climate actions and impact (57%), adopting energy-efficient or climate-friendly machinery, technologies and equipment (57%) and intentionally reducing air travel (55%). While all sustainability actions are important, the report identifies five “needle-moving” actions that demonstrate a deeper understanding of the business benefits of sustainability, such as developing new, climate-friendly products or services, requiring suppliers and business partners to meet specific sustainability criteria, updating or relocating facilities to make them more resistant to climate impacts, incorporating climate considerations into lobbying and tying senior leader compensation to sustainability performance.
The survey revealed a group of leaders (19% of the respondents) whose organizations are in an advanced stage of the climate journey, as they implemented at least four of the five “needle-moving” sustainability actions. Compared to those organizations which haven’t implemented more than one (35% of the total respondents), these leaders are more concerned about climate change (74% versus 52%), expecting it to have a high impact on their business strategies in the coming years (73% versus 50%), planning to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 (82% versus 50%), less likely to see cost as an obstacle for sustainability efforts (19% versus 33%), indicating they may have a better understanding of the positive impact that sustainability efforts might have on customer satisfaction (55% versus 39%), investor returns and/or satisfaction (45% versus 23%) and employee recruitment and retention (44% versus 26%).
Deloitte 2022 CxO Sustainability Report was conducted among more than 2,000 C-level executives in 21 countries from Europe, South Africa, the Americas and Asia Pacific, with representatives from all major industry sectors, such as consumer, financial services, energy, resources and industrials, life sciences and health care, technology, media and telecom and professional services.