The top concern of U.S. businesses for climate change and environmental issues is reducing carbon emissions, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Appetite for Change global survey.
U.S. survey respondents ranked reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions as the issue to most impact their companies over the next two to five years (16 percent), followed by new regulation, (13 percent), energy efficiency (12 percent), and legislation/new laws (11 percent).
“The Obama Administration recently announced that the federal government would reduce its own carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2020. If the government were to push down that requirement through its supply chain to all government contractors and suppliers, the impact on U.S. business would be quite significant,” says Kathy Nieland, leader of the Sustainability and Climate Change practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Eighty-seven percent of U.S. survey respondents say change is likely over the next few years as a result of the climate change and environmental debate. Twenty-eight percent believe these changes could be significant.
Although more than half the respondents (55 percent) noted that the climate change and environmental debate has had an impact on the way their organization conducts business 45 percent said it has had little if no impact at all.
The survey also finds that there is broad-based support for tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Eighty-eight percent of American companies surveyed said that tax incentives were effective in encouraging businesses to reduce their environmental impact, although 67 percent said that tax incentives currently in place are not sufficiently motivating them to change their business behavior to obtain them.
One in four U.S. respondents (23 percent) said government should have primary responsibility for leading behavioral change around climate initiatives, rather than businesses overall or their own industry. In comparison, 44 percent of respondents globally said government should have primary responsibility in this area.
A significantly higher proportion of U.S. respondents (38 percent) want business/the market to have primary responsibility for leading behavioral change, compared with only 18 percent globally.
A majority (56 percent) of U.S. respondents do not feel that government engages effectively with business to ensure its environmental policies take industry views into account. Only 17 percent said they believe the government has a clear, unambiguous policy with regard to environmental economic instruments.
Another finding shows that U.S. businesses are split on whether voluntary programs to disclose their carbon emissions results in a reduction of their environmental impact. Fifty percent said they are not very/not at all effective, while the remaining 50 percent say they are effective.
More than four in 10 (44 percent) of respondents said the potential cost savings from introducing energy-efficient measures was “very influential” on their organization’s environmental behavior.
A recent study from Ceres and the Professional Risk Managers International Association (PRMIA) indicates that nearly 75 percent of corporate risk managers said political and regulatory environments are their top concerns.