While a majority of business executives view climate change and sustainability as a major issue that needs to be addressed, many leaders have tempered their actions due to the pandemic and economic downturn.

According to the latest Deloitte Global survey, about 81% of executives are concerned about climate change and see the world at a tipping point to act and 72% want to see governments assume a larger role in the climate crisis.

Specifically, business leaders believe that climate change is no longer a distant threat, with nearly 30% of executives indicating that their organizations already see the operational fallout of climate-related problems and over a quarter facing a scarcity of resources due to the negative effects of climate change.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled environmental sustainability efforts as businesses were forced to tighten their belts and cut back. Almost two-thirds of organizations indicated that they need to reduce their environmental sustainability efforts due to the recent economic downturn. Less than 50% of organizations are taking sustainability actions, but a handful of leading organizations are exploring accountability measures such as tying leaders’ compensation to climate metrics to jumpstart sustainability efforts.

Organizations are also adjusting to the uncertainty from changing political and regulatory environments, operational impacts due to climate-related events, and growing grassroots activism.

Despite the setback, businesses still believe that environmental sustainability efforts are good for people, the planet, and long-term profits. Consequently, companies expect to accelerate environmental sustainability efforts over the next year through strategies beyond public policy.

Looking ahead, executives argue that education is the the number one sustainability solution, followed by collaboration with others and advocacy.

“Our findings highlight ways for organizations to incorporate a breadth of environmental sustainability efforts into their core operations and move from commitment to action,” concludes Deloitte.

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