Business leaders concerned about the impacts of climate change

Adam Powick, Australia's Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte

Concerns on climate in Australian business leaders has increased in the last 8 months.

Almost three quarters (74%) of Australian executives see the world at a tipping point for responding to climate change, up from just over half (52%) only eight months earlier.

Two thirds of Australian executives expect climate change to have a high or very high impact on their organisation’s strategy and operations over the coming three years, highlighting the recognition of the urgency to act.

The findings are contained in the 2022 Deloitte CxO Sustainability Report, based on a survey of more than 2,000 business leaders across 21 countries, including 102 in Australia.

Australia is among the top 10 countries most concerned about climate change.

Almost all the Australian executives surveyed (95%) say their companies have already been impacted by climate change citing the operational and regulatory impacts of climate change, cost of mitigation, societal pressures, and resource scarcity as areas of impact.

Australian businesses feel more pressure to act on climate change than the global average and 51% of Australian executives say that their company is impacted by regulatory and political uncertainty.

Australia leading the charge against climate change

Australian companies are much more likely, 10% or more ahead of the global average, to be implementing the tougher, “needle-moving” actions defined by Deloitte’s analysis.

More than a third of Australian executives have in some way experienced the impacts of climate events over the past year, with more frequent and powerful storms, bush fires, severe flooding and severe drought among the most common events.

Despite the increasing levels of concern, the report finds the vast majority of business leaders in Australia remain optimistic that there’s still time to act.

89% of respondents currently as compared to 80% eight months ago, agree to the fact that with immediate action, the worst impacts of climate change can be limited.

Deloitte calls for action

Deloitte modelling for the Business Council of Australia shows that inaction on climate change could cost the economy $3.4 trillion by 2070 but rapid, focused action could grow the economy by $890 billion adding around 200,000 jobs in that same period.

Deloitte Global Chief Executive Officer Punit Renjen expounded further on this aspect, “The battle against climate change isn’t a choice, it’s billions of choices.”

“No action is insignificant, but certain activities and decisions ‘move the needle’ more than others, and those bolder actions from business leaders are needed now—while there’s still time to limit the damage. It’s time to prove we’re up to the challenge.”

Deloitte Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Powick also offered his insights. “Climate change is both a critical challenge and critical opportunity for Australia.”

“It’s great to see the positive engagement of Australian business leaders on this topic and the desire to work together to make a meaningful and positive impact.”

“If we are bold, decisive and co-ordinated, we can mitigate downside climate risks and help attract investment, create new jobs and support our regional communities.”

“This is a national agenda we must own and an opportunity we must seize.”