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Titans or Titanics?

Businesses are living ‘in two realities’ when it comes to climate change and resource scarcity
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Corporate boards are not adequately assessing and quantifying the opportunities and risks to company value from climate change and resource scarcity beyond the business planning horizon, according to a new report released today by the Carbon Trust.

The report, Titans or Titanics? Understanding the business response to climate change and resource scarcity, looks in detail at why business action today is nowhere near sufficient to address the major environmental challenges faced by society.

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A dual reality

It finds that businesses are living in two realities: they recognise and accept the risks and opportunities of an environmentally sustainable future, but continue to focus on the short term.

Despite the perception that drivers for change will continue to become stronger in the near future, most businesses appear to have no clear vision on how to manage the transition effectively.

‘The report highlights the dichotomy of the two realities acknowledged by most businesses – the needs which must be met today, while beginning on what is often still a relatively modest process of change, and the very much more radical changes needed if we are to meet what can sometimes seem still distant challenges.

‘This gap in perceived realities has closed only modestly over the last twenty years. Closing it at the required speed will regard unprecedented alignment and combined action by business, investors, governments and consumers. No one group can achieve progress without the support of the others.’

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of the Foundation for the UN Global Compact

The findings

  • 70% of global business leaders confident that action taken by consumers, governments, and investors will force the change to an environmentally sustainable future.
  • 76% see bottom line risks from direct impacts of climate change, and 84% see business opportunity in an environmentally sustainable future.
  • Half believe they would have to fundamentally change products, services, or business models if drivers for environmental sustainability become strong.
  • Of those that claim to be aware of how they compare with competitors on environmental sustainability, 99% believe they are at least average for their sector, with half seeing themselves as leaders.

A problem or a solution?

Insights are based on six months of in-depth interviews with a range of experts from business, finance, government, academia and civil society. The Carbon Trust also commissioned independent market research interviews with 229 board-level executive decision-makers across five regions: the UK, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the USA.

‘Businesses are both a problem and the solution. They bring together the productive, technical and financial capabilities to lead the global transition to sustainable, low carbon future. But it is crucial that boards properly assess and quantify the long-term risks and value-creation opportunities from climate change and resource scarcity, steering a safe course in dangerous waters.’

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company that aims to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Click here to find out more.

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