10th Annual Global CEO Survey: Excerpts On Climate Change

PriceWaterhouseCooper recently announced, as they'd done in nine preceeding years, the results of their annual survey of CEOs. Results were presented at the Davos Switzerland forum where many of these same surveyed CEOs are meeting; this time, presumably, they will see the results in context of an obviously climate-change impacted Alpine environment. The mainstream press reports we've seen so far seemed only to cover aggregate survey findings related to climate. So, we thought it worthwhile to drill down on the climate details. Hundreds of CEOs were asked to characterize the relative seriousness of sixteen (16) categorical "concerns about business and macro threats..." Climate change came in near the bottom: at position number fifteen (15) out of sixteen (16) concerns total. A screen shot of the of the concern rankings chart is presented below the fold. Not surprisingly, energy security is far more concerning than climate change.

The report presents the finding that CEO's from Asian Pacific companies are far more concerned about climate change than the average CEO (world wide comparison). That is most surprising. Maybe leading with the Prius punch has larger cultural ramifications?

We thought the most disturbing finding was that CEO's largely perceive climate change as a "macro threat," -- not a direct threat to their businesses. Similarly, fewer than 30% of CEO's surveyed reported committing "moderate or significant resources" to the issue.

The report summary explains the climate findings this way: "CEOs place systemic risks, such as global warming and pandemics, low on the list of the threats that face their businesses. Some might see this as being indicative of a short-term approach to risk assessment and mitigation. Our experience, however, suggests that it reflects a sense of futility among managers as they face a set of nearly insurmountable challenges."

OK, so CEOs are depressed about climate change; and obviously...this is indicated by by other findings displayed in the report...they are most terrified about non-uniform regulations dealing with climate change: rules varying from nation to nation, state to state, and city to city. The report makes clear that inconsistency of regulation or 'over-regulation' in general really bothers CEOs. Governor Arnold must be seen as one holy terror, then. We hear he is visiting Davos this year. He's not likely to get many smiles.

Other media reports we saw on the survey stated that while '40%' of CEOs on average were concerned about climate change, only 18% of CEOs based in the US were similarly concerned. That comparison was not found in the downloadable report; although, it makes intuitive sense that US CEO's are more in denial about climate science than their non-US peers: they have been reading Wall Street Journal editorial fabrications for years.

Kudos to PWC for giving a good reality dunk to those of us hoping that big business would lead the charge, directing world governments to get working on climate change..

Image credit: PWC report cover.