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

Last week, I wrote about PwC’s new CEO Survey, the results of which can be summarized this way:

“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.”

Here are a few more excerpts about CEO views on climate – one of the headline risks in the report:

“CEOs report mixed success at meeting their stated [climate] objectives. Roughly two-thirds have efforts underway to improve energy efficiency; another 10% report completing such initiatives; and about half say they have work in progress to innovate climate-friendly products and services.

… fewer than half of all respondents have incorporated climate risk into financial planning – and nearly one-third have no plans to do so. 

Nearly one-third expect climate change to alter the way they create, deliver and capture value over the next three years – compared to less than one-quarter, who said as much regarding the past five years.”

On one hand, it is hard to reconcile that many of the same CEOs who concluded their companies would not survive more than a decade on their current path are also lagging in adequately incorporating climate into their business plans. On the other hand, it seems to support the idea that many CEOs don’t expect to be around all that long, are willing to focus on short term gains (corporate and personal) and kick the can down the road for someone else to deal with.

CSOs, in-house ESG/sustainability teams and outside counsel/advisors must understand the real mindset of their company or client CEOs – and those CEOs must have the courage to be candid with their ESG teams. Where differences exist, ESG staff and advisors must find new ways of demonstrating value and relevance. Otherwise, expectations will differ within the company, effort and money will be wasted and the company will be at risk.

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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