Half of business leaders alarmed by climate change, yet few prepared

Only 27% of Canadian business leaders have strategies in place

Half of business leaders alarmed by climate change, yet few prepared

A new survey from the BMO Climate Institute has found that almost half of business leaders in the US and Canada believe that climate change has already started affecting their businesses. However, the survey also revealed that only a minority of them had strategies in place to address this issue.

According to the second annual BMO Climate Institute Business Leaders Survey, which interviewed over 700 business leaders in the US and Canada, while business leaders grappled with various concerns such as inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain bottlenecks, the survey found a growing awareness of climate change.

“Inspired by our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, BMO's Climate Ambition is to be our clients' lead partner in the transition to a net zero world,” said Melissa Fifield, head at the BMO Climate Institute. “As we make progress toward this goal, the BMO Climate Institute Business Leaders Survey helps us understand how businesses view climate change.”

“Nearly half are already experiencing an impact on their businesses and many more expect to feel the effects in under five years,” Fifield said.

48% of business leaders surveyed believed climate change had already impacted their businesses, with 81% expecting such effects within the next five years. 32% of businesses had established plans to address climate change, up 6% from the previous year, while 35% were in the process of developing one.

US business leaders were more likely to be implementing plans (38%), compared to Canada, where only 27% had plans in place.

Despite slightly lower confidence in their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the survey identified actions believed to have the biggest impact:

  • 76% of Canadian and US businesses opted for renewable, compostable, and recyclable resources
  • 61% focused on tracking and managing supply chain emissions and reducing travel
  • 53% chose to purchase carbon credits, with an 8% increase in Canada

Additionally, the survey revealed that business leaders increasingly turned to financial institutions for climate solutions, as they felt governments and industries could offer more realistic climate policies.

68% of business leaders believed financial institutions could assist companies in becoming more climate friendly. 77% expressed interest in financial incentives for meeting climate-related targets, such as discounted loans and higher deposit rates. 74% sought an easier way to track greenhouse gas emissions. 67% were interested in support for carbon offsets and trading carbon credits globally.

“The results of the survey reveal that 61% of leaders with a plan are doing it because they think it's good for their business, while those without a plan are looking for advice and support in mitigating the impacts of climate change on their businesses,” said Michael Torrance, chief sustainability officer at BMO.

“Business leaders are telling us they value products, services and incentives that will help them reduce their footprint, as well as insights to help them adapt and thrive in the evolving landscape,” Torrance added.