Business leaders failing to adapt to climate change


Business leaders are struggling to adapt to a low carbon economy, despite their ongoing obligations to do so. That is a key finding from a survey carried out by YouGov for Aston University ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris at the end of this month.

The research finds:

  • More than a third (38%) of business leaders say they do not see climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy as a concern
  • Another 41% see it as just a ‘minor concern’
  • 66% of business leaders believe their business does have a responsibility to do something about climate change and support the transition to a low carbon economy
  • But only 7% have adapted their corporate strategy and future business plans to accommodate the issue
  • A further 16% have plans to make significant changes
  • 32% say their business is not adapting its plans at all.

Business leaders’ lack of business planning on climate change has implications for the buildings that their companies develop and occupy.

Next generation

However, separate research undertaken by YouthSight found students have a higher sense of responsibility than business leaders, with 98% saying they believe they have a responsibility to do something about climate change, and 46% saying they are very concerned about the issue.

When it comes to recruitment, 43% of businesses looking for new staff with knowledge of climate change believe that graduate applicants are prepared on the issue, although nearly two-thirds (59%) of businesses say they do not require new recruits to have any knowledge or understanding of the subject. However, less than a third of students (28%) questioned say they have received education, or training on climate change and the low carbon economy while at university.

Ben Wielgus, associate director, sustainability services, KPMG – which occupies a BREEAM Excellent rated green headquarters building at Canary Wharf – said: “KPMG this year has recruited around 1,000 graduates in the UK, and our clients hire tens of thousands more. For us, it is increasingly important that all of these graduates understand the challenges and opportunities from climate change and wider sustainability topics. I believe that these megaforces are undoubtedly going to change the way business and society works and the most successful companies will hire the best graduates who understand and can adapt to this changing agenda.”

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