Company bosses grow cooler over global warming concerns

Survey shows climate change is at the very bottom in the list of firms' worries

Some of the sheen came off the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, yesterday, as a key new business survey found that global warming has fallen to the bottom of the league of European company concerns.

A cocktail of competing "events", ranging from the recession to the Arab Spring, have collectively taken chief executives' eyes off the climate change ball, significantly reducing the time, effort and money they are planning to invest to combat its effects, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which compiled the report.

As a result, European chief executives say that global warming is now having a smaller impact on strategy and investment decisions than any of the seven other key events the report has identified as most influencing company behaviour.

This puts climate change below issues such as the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan, the Arab Spring uprisings, competition to secure affordable natural resources and concerns about rising poverty and inequality.

Last year, climate change came in at second place in the league table.

The failure to agree specific targets for cutting emissions in Durban will do nothing to push global warming back up the business agenda, warned the report.

Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, said: "Business will shrug its shoulders over Durban and wait for direction from national capitals.

"There is still no more ambition here than what we saw in Cancun or even Copenhagen. What we got instead was a clear signal that we might get another clear signal in 2015.

"Business investment in low carbon and climate change strategies has to fight for attention," Mr Grant added.

However, business leaders and environmental campaigners alike acknowledged that the summit represented a breakthrough.

In a deal which was brokered at the last minute by Connie Hedegaard, the Dane who is the EU's leading climate change negotiator and her Indian opposite number, Jayanthi Natarajan, China, the US and India agreed for the first time to be legally bound to reduce their emissions.

This commitment formed part of a broader, binding reduction agreement involving both developed and developing countries.

But observers pointed out that without specific targets and deadlines for emissions cuts, the agreement would be unlikely to have much, if any, impact on business behaviour. The plan is to agree the terms by 2015 and implement them in 2020.

Howard Johns, chairman of the Solar Trade Association, said: "Any agreement being drawn up is a good thing, but I'm not sure this will have a great impact on business behaviour."

Rhian Kelly, CBI director for Business Environment, said the Durban agreement was "a good result", but cautioned "this isn't a deal itself and must be used as the base camp for the mountain we're still to climb".

Jamie Adam, central development officer of Community Energy Scotland, a charity advising on renewable energy generation and carbon neutral projects, added: "It's hardly a surprise that global warming has fallen down the agenda, given the economic situation. But it's a very short-term perspective to ignore climate change and hope that it's going to go away.

"It's important to recognise that there are still huge opportunities for businesses and communities to develop income streams through renewable energy," Mr Adam said.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
science
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried