Thursday 25 March 2021 12:44 pm

Green investment surges as UK bosses sound alarm on climate change

The majority of UK bosses intend to increase their long-term investments in sustainability initiatives as they grow concerned about the impact of climate change. 

A PwC survey of UK chief executives reveals 70 per cent are concerned about the impact of climate change, with almost a third “extremely concerned” about the issue. 

But climate change still only ranks ninth among CEOs’ perceived threats to growth, with 29 per cent saying they are “not concerned at all” or “not very concerned” about the issue. 

The pandemic has tightened bottom lines and companies have been under pressure to prioritise short-term financial health over long-term sustainability goals. 

“Climate has become a fundamental business issue, and CEOs recognise they need to step up. Companies are starting to transform their business models, supply chains, products and services,” Kevin Ellis, PwC’s chairman and senior partner said.

Encouragingly the survey shows 60 per cent of leaders plan to increase their investment in ESG initiatives over the next three years. 

While the pandemic has been the core issue of the last year, the topic of ESG is starting to grow increasingly important for corporates and investor groups. 

Earlier this week the influential Climate Action group said swathes of corporate climate pledges are hollow. Additionally the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a consultation on Wednesday on mandatory TCFD reporting to support the transition to a net-zero economy. 

UK business leaders are starting to recognise the need to do more to measure and report the environmental impact of their business. Over half believe they should be doing more to measure and report the environmental impact of their business, according to PwC’s CEO survey. 

And now businesses are calling on the government to do more: Almost half of chief executives think reducing climate change and environmental damage should be a top three government priority, compared to 34 per cent globally. 

But confidence in the government is still lacking: just 45 per cent of leaders believe it is likely the government’s recovery plan will balance short-term economic needs with long-term environmental goals. 

“The Chancellor laid some foundations for the transition in the Spring Budget, but the need for  a robust roadmap with bigger and bolder moves to accelerate the changes needed to deliver the Government’s 10-point plan is becoming more urgent,” Emma Cox, UK leader for climate change and sustainability at PwC, said. 

“With COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November, the UK has an opportunity to take a leadership role in tackling climate change and leverage this moment and galvanize the international community to deliver critical outcomes.”