The United Nations’ COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow has focused government, corporate and public attention even more intently on the need to take drastic action to curb global warming. But the sense of urgency was already growing. Climate scientists say the world needs to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees but the UN has warned that emissions will increase by 16% if governments stick to current plans. In the public mind, climate change has also shifted from an abstract threat to a tangible one, with the accelerating frequency of heatwaves, storms and floods.
The easiest lever for governments to pull to accelerate carbon reduction is to set tighter targets for businesses to manage down their impacts. Emissions measurement and reporting requirements are already spreading from the largest to medium-sized organisations. Institutional investors and fund managers are also pressing corporations to show their plans to drastically cut their carbon footprints and to report environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics.
But how well prepared are companies for the journey to a net-zero carbon economy? How advanced are their plans and what resources do they dedicate to sustainability and to ESG issues?
Our Global Sustainability Priorities Survey of 2,185 companies, buyers and suppliers, carried out in September 2021, provides some of the answers. The survey gives a snapshot of businesses’ strategies for and commitments to sustainability management and carbon reduction, and the opportunities and challenges they face.
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