Is public relations the key driver behind climate change action?

Mar 29, 2010 |

Economist Intelligence Unit’s After Copenhagen: Business and Climate Change Study, sponsored by 1E, IBM, Hitachi and the Carbon Trust, reveals that climate change action is stalling in 2010, despite pockets of green innovation

London & New York, 29th March 2010 – 1E, a leading provider of software and services that specializes in reducing IT operational costs within business and government environments, today announced the latest findings from ‘After Copenhagen: Business and Climate Change’, a research report conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The global study, which polled 542 senior executives immediately after the closure of the Copenhagen climate summit and into January 2010, demonstrates that the impetus behind climate change action in business has reached an impasse. 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 per cent rise on 2009 figures. Moreover, seven in ten respondents (71 per cent) maintained that carbon reduction policies are primarily driven by public relations and motivated by corporate reputation. The report was sponsored by 1E, the Carbon Trust, IBM and Hitachi.

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 percent of respondents believe the ‘jury is still outon 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% of businesses say that they are introducing green products to keep up with rivals
  • …and yet 59% say that carbon emissions reduction presents a market opportunity to gain competitive advantage and 49% 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.”

“Organisations have a duty – more than just a moral obligation – to become more energy efficient,” adds Sumir Karayi, CEO, 1E. “Green IT initiatives can actually save organizations money – this should be the key driver, above and beyond reputation. We recommend a modular approach to a company-wide sustainability strategy which identifies the ‘quick wins’ that can be achieved today – such as a PC power management project which can save organisations up to £22 per PC per year in energy savings.”

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