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Greenwashing Tops Executives' Minds as Conflict and Inflation Threaten Corporate Climate Progress

According to a new global professional services firm Deloitte survey, executives are generally optimistic about the long-term benefits of investing in environmentally sustainable practices. Still, external economic and geopolitical factors threaten corporate climate and sustainability progress.

For the new report, 2022 Climate Check, Deloitte and Oxford Economics surveyed 700 CEOs from companies with revenues ranging from $250 million to over $10 billion across 14 countries and all key industry sectors. The study, performed in advance of the COP27 climate change conference, investigated climate action from the perspective of business leaders.

The majority of executives were optimistic about the results of their sustainability initiatives, with 87% of respondents stating that environmentally sustainable practicesorganizations have long-term economic benefits and 75% agreeing that their organisations can continue to grow as carbon emissions are reduced.

Nearly half of respondents (45%) reported that concerns such as the situation in Ukraine and inflation had prompted them to scale down on their climate and sustainability strategy over the next year. However, 37% of respondents indicated that they want to increase sustainability efforts over the coming year.

The majority of organisations are actively pursuing climate action strategies, with nearly 70% of respondents reporting that their organisations have developed and begun implementing both climate mitigation and climate adaptation strategies, and another 25% with strategic plans in place and expected to begin implementation within the next one to two years. More over half (57%) of the executives stated that their firms have invested in the necessary technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

According to the survey, greenwashing has become a significant worry for businesses, with two-thirds of executives indicating that it has become a serious issue in their respective industries. Greenwashing was also towards the top of the list – at 41% – of climate-related concerns that CEOs felt should receive more worldwide attention, after national and international security risks stemming from climate pattern changes at 50%. In addition, ensuring a just transition (41%) and business openness and responsibility (34%) were also important themes.

Similarly, when asked what governments should do to encourage businesses to address climate change prior to COP27, reducing greenwashing was ranked first by 63%, followed by reducing investment risk for clean technology by 57%. Over half of CEOs believe that governments should introduce a carbon tax to stimulate firms, while 44% believe that governments should compel climate change reporting from corporations.

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