It’s not often that business executives are the focus of opinion polls, but a survey this year by Yougov highlights some truly surprising results. Yes, the sample size is small but the respondents are powerful. 200 business executives from FTSE 300 companies were polled on their attitudes to climate change in a business context, and the results make for interesting reading, especially in the context of public perception.  66% of people think that climate change will not be an important issue for businesses over the next three to four years (Ipsos MORI March 2008) but the results of this poll suggest otherwise.

The number of business executives who think that climate change is a significant issue lies at 85%, a higher proportion than the population at large (77% Ipsos MORI 2008). In fact, 66% of executives said that climate change had reached the board agenda, though 21% said it was not likely to be discussed in the near future. In total, 31% of businesses are reviewing their current business model to account for climate change and 22% are working towards carbon neutral status.

It’s mixed news in terms of office energy efficiency. The proportions of businesses employing energy saving methods in the office are high, but lagging behind the general public by a couple of years. The number of businesses recycling or using recycled products, at 77% is almost exactly the same as the population in general two years ago (76% Populus 2006), as is the use of energy efficient appliances at 67%.

Perhaps the most illuminating part of the study is the feelings of executives on what is stopping them becoming greener. 58% of executives felt that the government was not doing enough to educate businesses on how to tackle climate change, surprisingly, 25% of executives thought there was not sufficient support from employees to adopt carbon management strategies and 24% thought that the biggest obstacle was convincing partners and suppliers.

All in all it’s a mixed and confusing set of results, but it certainly highlights an area to look out for. Watch this space.

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