Greenwashing Top of Mind for Execs, as War & Inflation Threaten Corporate Climate Progress: Deloitte
Executives are generally optimistic about the long-term benefits of investing in environmentally sustainable practices, but external economic and geopolitical factors are threatening corporate progress on climate and sustainability, according to a new survey released today by global professional services Deloitte.
For the new report, 2022 Climate Check, Deloitte, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, surveyed 700 executives across 14 countries and all major industry sectors, at companies with revenues ranging from $250 million to over $10 billion. The survey, conducted in the leadup to the COP27 climate change conference examined the state of climate action from the perspective of business leaders.
The report found that most executives were optimistic about the outcomes of their sustainability initiatives, with 87% of respondents saying that environmentally sustainable practices has long-term economic benefits, and 75% agreeing that their organizations can continue to grow as they reduce carbon emissions.
Many respondents indicated, however, that events over the past year will impact corporate sustainability initiatives, with nearly half (45%) of respondents reporting that issues such as the war in Ukraine and inflation have caused them to cut back on their climate and sustainability strategies over the next 12 months. While some pull back, however, 37% said that they plan to accelerate sustainability efforts over the next year.
The report indicated that most organizations are actively pursuing climate action strategies with nearly 70% of respondents reporting that their companies have developed and started execution on both climate mitigation and climate adaptation strategies, and around another 25% with strategic plans in place and expected to begin implementation in the next 1-2 years. Well over half (57%) of the executives said that their organizations have invested in the technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their own operations.
Greenwashing has emerged as a significant concern for businesses, according to the survey, with two-thirds of executives reporting that it has become a serious concern in their industries. Greenwashing was also near the top of the list – at 41% – of topics climate-related topics the executives felt should get more attention globally, after national and international security risks resulting from changes in climate patterns at 50%. Other key topics included ensuring a just transition (41%) and business transparency and accountability (34%).
Similarly, when asked what governments should do to encourage businesses to address climate change heading into COP27, cracking down on greenwashing held top spot at 63%, followed by minimizing investment risk for clean technologies at 57%. Over half of executives responded that governments should implement a carbon tax to encourage businesses, while 44% said they should mandate corporate climate change reporting.
Click here to access the Deloitte 2022 Climate Check report.