Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Sherlock Award #789: Climate change "not a business priority"

This week's Sherlock award ("No s*** sherlock", that is - I'm sorry I have to be careful - at least two fully frocked Reverends regularly read this blog) goes to this morning's Financial Times:

Climate change is bottom of the priority list for Britain’s largest companies, a survey of business leaders has found – and their biggest shareholders are not much more exercised by the issue, according to a report.

Surprise? Of course not.

Instead they regard climate change effects as slow and cumulative and the issue as outside the remit of typical fund managers who “are not looking at 2012, let alone 2050.” Long term for the investment community was about three years, they said.

Three years? In my experience most business managers think about this quarter's figures, and that's it. Thirteen weeks is 'long term' in most businesses.

The two surveys identified a degree of cynicism about climate change issues among businesses. A third of the senior corporate executives saw policy initiatives as more about managing company reputation than making a difference to global warming.

To be fair, there are many companies who do take climate change seriously and are doing something about it. But the findings of these reports should not surprise anyone. They reinforce what the Liberal Democrats have been saying for decades. The only way you will get real changes in behaviour is through economic measures. Companies will only sit up and take notice of climate change if their bottom line is impacted.

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