The impetus behind climate change action in business has reached an impasse according to a new study of 542 global business leaders conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of 1E, a leading provider of software and services that specializes in reducing IT costs.


Almost one third (32 per cent) of respondents declared that they do not yet have a coherent strategy in place to address energy consumption issues, a 7 percent rise on 2009 figures. Moreover, seven in ten respondents (71 percent) maintained that carbon reduction policies are primarily driven by public relations and motivated by corporate reputation.


Other headline findings include:

·         One of the biggest barriers to greater action on climate change is the current unclear regulatory environment;  business wants more direction

·         52 per cent of respondents believe the “jury is still out” on the seriousness of climate change (against 31 per cent who disagree)

·         Despite this, 71 percent of executives have changed their personal habits as a result of concerns about climate change

·         Overall, about one in two (49 per cent) companies has a climate change strategy but only one in ten (10 per cent) of firms have a strategy encompassing the whole business, including external partners and the supply chain


Just 12 percent of businesses say that they are introducing green products to keep up with rivals—and yet 59 percent say that carbon emissions reduction presents a market opportunity to gain competitive advantage and 49 percent say that it is an opportunity to gain cost advantage

Two groups are emerging – the movers, who are innovating and exploring opportunities to be greener and the doubters, who remain unconvinced of the merits of such action


“Climate change action by business has stalled over the past year and skepticism is on the rise,” comments James Watson, managing editor, Economist Intelligence Unit. “But regardless of individual views on climate change, business leaders are looking for clarity on national and international regulations, so that they can compete on a level playing field. In the absence of that, only a relative minority are willing to pursue the potential competitive advantages of early action on carbon reduction.”