Long-term climate strategy not impacted by COVID-19, says global business - but governments have a bigger role to play

Corporate commitment to climate action remains in face of pandemic
Reading time: 4 minutes
17 June 2020

17 June 2020, London: In spite of uncertainties and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, 97% of business professionals say their long-term sustainability strategy remains unchanged, while 80% say their company has been able to maintain their current climate actions during the crisis. But nearly half (47%) said they still need more supportive government policies to be able to achieve their sustainability goals.

This is according to new data released today by international non-profit, The Climate Group, which surveyed the opinion of 100 of the world’s leading private sector sustainability professionals to assess the impact of COVID-19. These professionals come from some of the most ambitious global companies committed to taking actions on energy and transport emissions, including large financial institutions, retail groups and tech giants.

When asked about governments’ role in rebuilding after the worst of the pandemic, there is strong business support for green measures:

  • 63% of respondents said that governments’ economic stimulus packages must invest first in measures that accelerate the decarbonization of the economy[1].
  • Interestingly, a similar number (59%) believe that any financial support should come with green strings attached, prioritizing industries that cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create green jobs.
  • Likewise, 50% said that taxpayer money should not be used for bailing out fossil fuel companies.
  • Only 12% did not cite the need for any further government action and very few (3%) did not agree with economic stimulus packages prioritizing climate.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of international non-profit The Climate Group, said:

“Business commitment to tackling climate change is now incredibly robust. Companies also see it as their responsibility to build a greener, fairer future. Governments should feel confident that implementing strong climate policy and green recovery measures will be welcomed and commended by the private sector. By working together, businesses and policymakers can help to ensure economies recover from the COVID-19 crisis while also halving emissions by 2030.”

Nearly all (96%) feel that climate action is just as, if not more important, to their business now compared to pre COVID-19. But while these attitudes remain steadfast, two in five (43%) also expect governments to be more interventionist to sustain corporate action on climate.

Some other upshots include predictions that business leaders will want to be more ambitious on tackling big societal issues like climate change (52%), and that stakeholders from customers to employees will want companies to do more and act faster on climate (49%). However, over half (55%) also feel that climate action might be at risk of falling down the corporate priority ladder if job creation and economic growth do take precedence.

Karol Gobczyński, Head of Climate & Energy at Ingka Group (formerly IKEA), said:

"IKEA is committed to become climate positive by 2030. We believe that the recovery should be fair and secure a drastic reduction of emissions (to enable a better everyday life for the many people). We support building a vibrant, resilient and green economy that is climate neutral and that adopts inclusive regulations, enabling individuals and companies to invest and benefit from renewable energy, zero-emissions transport and circular consumption.”

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Signify, added:

“The technology to tackle climate change exists and is providing a range of benefits for our environment, economy and citizens around the world. Their implementation can be accelerated when governments adopt a carbon-neutral ambition level combined with related enablers like performance-based-procurement and taxonomy. Let us change the course of the future by taking decisive action now.”

Respondents of the survey come from businesses that are part of The Climate Group’s corporate initiatives on renewable electricity (RE100), energy productivity (EP100) and electric vehicles (EV100). Through these initiatives, more than 350 multinationals across every major sector are committed to climate action. Together, they represent over US$5.5 trillion in combined revenue, with operations in more than 140 markets and more than 16 million employees worldwide – almost double the workforce of Beijing.

– ENDS –

Notes to Editor

[1] Last week, a group of over 50 global companies called for corporate renewables to be built into the EU’s COVID-19 economic stimulus package – including some of Europe’s biggest clean energy buyers Mars, Ingka Group and VF Corporation. Asks included public credit guarantees or risk sharing for at-risk renewable energy projects, and policies to support a faster roll out of power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Methodology

The Climate Group surveyed 100 business professionals from multinational companies that are part of the organization’s corporate leadership initiatives (RE100, EP100, EV100) about the impact of COVID-19 on their business. The survey was conducted between 18 May 2020 – 15 June 2020. Data tables are available on request.

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