Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Does Business ‘Get’ Climate Change?

A recent survey of nearly 3,000 top managers by McKinsey, the world’s leading management consultancy, shows a change in thinking about climate change. 51% see “environmental issues including climate change” as one of the top three issues that will affect public and political attention over the next five years. A similar proportion put it in the top three for impact on ‘shareholder value’ (ie the share price). The environment was rated a top three issue by more managers than any other issue.

This was reinforced for me at the Financial Times Innovation conference in London last year. Although climate change was not on the agenda it kept coming up and Gary Hamel, one of the world’s leading management thinkers, told the audience “Climate change is now one of humanity’s greatest challenges and therefore a challenge for any company.”

The good news is that this is up from 31% two years ago. 87% are personally worried about climate change and 81% see a role for government in addressing the issue. Overall they expect government to take the lead.

The bad news is that 49% of top managers don’t put it in the top three. And this proportion is 55% in China, 59% in North America and 67% in India.

The opinions of top managers matter both for the resources they control directly and because of their influence with governments and other businesses. 97% believe that the climate is changing. We haven’t yet persuaded them to take responsibility but we’re well on the way.


  • Assessing the impact of societal issues. The McKinsey Quarterly, 24 November 2007. (Also on the web.)

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