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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

PwC published their 27th Global CEO Survey, updating last year’s finding that “nearly 40% of global CEOs believed their companies would no longer be viable in ten years’ time if they continued on their current path.” This year’s survey results show:

“Although the 4,702 CEOs responding to this year’s survey were more optimistic about global economic growth than last year, 45% of them are still not confident that their companies would survive more than a decade on their current path.”

That is fairly shocking. Most of the report addresses technology (AI), operating inefficiencies and geopolitical risks, but climate made the headlines too. Several things caught my attention (I’ll cover those next week), but these two were the most surprising by far:

“Four in ten CEOs [including half of the CEOs responding from chemical companies] report that they have accepted lower hurdle rates for climate-friendly investments than for other investments – in the majority of cases between one and four percentage points lower. This is clear evidence that some CEOs are willing to make complex trade-offs as they strive to boost the sustainability of their businesses…

Among the other climate actions that CEOs say they aren’t likely to take are two with big societal implications. The first, upskilling or reskilling the workforce, is an important part of ensuring a just transition to a net-zero economy. The second [is] investing in nature-based climate solutions…”

This shows an interesting dynamic – preferential support for climate investments but nature-based climate solutions (typically lowest-cost climate solutions) are off the menu. The report does not provide details, explanations or context behind the results. For instance, we don’t know why lower hurdle rates are accepted or what the “complex trade-offs” are, nor why CEOs are less willing to pursue lowest-cost options. Perhaps last year’s turmoil in the voluntary climate markets made an impression. I hope as the year progresses, we will see company actions, announcements and disclosures that shed light on the details.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile