Extreme Weather Events Accelerate Sustainability Efforts

A fire burning trees in a forest.

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by | Nov 6, 2023

Extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change are expected to have a material impact on sustainability initiatives, according to a consensus of global organizations surveyed by Honeywell.

Six in 10 organizations globally agree that recent wildfires, floods, and storms this year are having an impact, the fifth edition of Honeywell’s Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) found. The ESI, which is compiled quarterly by Honeywell and The Futurum Group, gauges movement in corporate sentiment and investment on sustainability. It is based on a global double-blind survey of 751 business, technology, and sustainability professionals.

Overall, the majority of those polled in the survey agreed that extreme weather is an issue. Another 45% said extreme heat either already has or will have an impact on their plans. The findings come as studies have shown extreme weather events are becoming more common, with increased frequency and intensity, due to the effects of climate change. 

“The extreme weather events this year have increased the sense of urgency for immediate action at organizations,” Gavin Towler, chief scientist for sustainability and chief sustainability officer at Honeywell, said in a statement. “As a result, we should expect to see more organizations looking to accelerate their sustainability efforts and, in particular, adopting a technology-driven approach to their energy transition plans.”

Business leaders are not the only ones concerned about the impact of extreme weather on efficiency and sustainability efforts. The Department of Energy recently committed up to $1.3 billion toward building three interregional transmission lines, adding 3.5 gigawatts of grid capacity throughout the United States. The funding will help upgrade the power grid to become more durable in the face of extreme weather events. 

In Vermont, extreme weather events have wreaked havoc on the state’s power grid over the past few years, prompting Green Mountain Energy to recently deploy a new energy strategy involving storage batteries and microgrids.

Survey Highlights

The findings come as most organizations — nine in 10 — plan to increase their budgets for energy evolution and efficiency initiatives. Despite the concern about the impact of extreme weather, 73% of organizations are at least somewhat optimistic about achieving near-term goals, compared to  62% a year ago. In this finding, the energy sector is the most confident of reaching its near-term goals among the industries covered in the index.

The survey also made it clear that business leaders are focusing on sustainability, as 92% of respondents said they have an ESG reporting process in place. Nearly one-third (30%) said the responsibility resides with executives in the C-suite.

Also of note, nearly 20% of organizations said they are taking a technology-driven approach to their sustainability initiatives, which is the highest percentage since the launch of the Index.

“The data is showing that organizations in the public and private sectors are actively forming frameworks to partake in either policy-driven or investment and technological-oriented action in effort to address the global objectives in environmental sustainability,” Daniel Newman, CEO of The Futurum Group, said in a statement.

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