UK CEOs focused on net zero plans but more work needed

UK company bosses are approaching a tipping point on environmental, societal and governance (ESG) related activity, with an increased transparency and personal accountability on issues such as climate change and inequality, according to PwC’s 25th Annual CEO Survey. However, despite almost 1 in 5 having personal annual bonus and long-term incentives linked to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the survey finds only a third are very concerned about the impacts and threats of climate change on their business (34% vs 33% globally).

The survey shows that greater progress is needed to achieve global climate goals, with only a third (34%) of UK CEOs making a net zero commitment (compared to just 22% globally) and 31% setting a carbon neutral commitment (vs 26% globally). The biggest drivers behind setting these net zero or carbon neutral commitments were mitigating climate risk (83%), attracting or retaining talent (71%) and meeting customer expectations (69%).

Emma Cox, global climate leader at PwC, said: “Achieving net zero by 2050 means big changes for everyone and we've seen a real ramp up in commitments in the lead up to COP26. Those who haven’t led on this agenda are now being encouraged by their peers, employees, customers, investors to respond, resulting in clear opportunities to help organisations understand the impacts of climate and what more they can do.”

The survey of almost 4,500 CEOs in 89 countries found that two thirds of UK CEOs are yet to make any form of commitment, especially with the increased focus on the impacts of climate from government and media over the last 12 months. 93% of UK CEOs who lead a business without a carbon neutral or net zero commitment feel that their organisation does not produce a meaningful amount of greenhouse gas emissions and, of the same group of UK CEOs, 89% say they do not have the ability to measure their emissions.

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