May 302010

Eighty-two percent of Canadian executives plan immediate increases on spending for climate change initiatives, according to the new report Action Amid Uncertainty: The Business Response To Climate Change, based on a global survey from Ernst & Young.

“Despite uncertain economic conditions, we’re seeing companies in the province [British Columbia] place an increased emphasis on climate change initiatives,” says Mike Mannella, Leader of Ernst & Young’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice in British Columbia. “Particularly in B.C., legislative drivers are forcing companies to take a look at the importance of climate change, but beyond that, businesses are really recognizing the value this investment can make to their business.”

While this is a global survey, I have selected a few highlights to focus on what Canadian companies are doing and what their future plans are.

71% of Canadian respondents indicate that their company already has an enterprise-wide climate change program targeting key business drivers. Another 11% plan for such implementation in the next 12 months.

82% of the Canadian companies surveyed expect their companies’ spending on climate change initiatives to increase over the next two years. This is significantly higher than the global average, where 70% expect their spending to increase.

And the spending will be significant, with nearly half of the Canadian respondents planning to spend between 0.5% to more than 5% of their revenue on climate change, sustainability, and environmental initiatives.

Canadian companies are taking a comprehensive approach, expanding their climate change efforts beyond the enterprise, through their entire supply chain. 43% of respondents say they are working directly with their suppliers to help them reduce their carbon footprint, while another 29% say they have begun such discussions. (See this post on how to implement sustainable purchasing.)

“In B.C., we only have to look as far as the carbon neutral government and Olympic Games, the carbon tax, the recently announced Clean Energy Act, or the legislation requiring reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to see that we understand the importance of being considered leaders in this space,” says Mannella.

Focusing on greenhouse gas emissions reporting trend, globally 64% of respondents provide transparent reporting in an annual corporate social responsibility report or a sustainability report. Nearly two-thirds of those who do report have their data verified by an independent third party. In Canada, increasing stakeholder expectations and regulatory requirements are likely to drive an increase both in the number of companies reporting and the use of independent assurance providers. (See these posts on Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions reporting legislation and finding certified greenhouse gas emissions quantification professionals in Canada.)

In summary, most Canadian companies:

  • will have enterprise-wide climate change program in place in the next 12 months
  • increase their spending on climate change initiatives over the next two years
  • plan to spend between 0.5% to more than 5% of their revenue on climate change, sustainability, and environmental initiatives
  • expanding their climate change efforts to include their entire supply chain

The global survey was commissioned by Ernst & Young and conducted by research firm Verdantix. Respondents were drawn from across 16 countries and 18 industry sectors.

The surveyed companies are from these countries: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.

The surveyed companies are from these industries:: airlines, automotive, banking and capital markets, biotechnology and pharmaceutical, chemicals, consumer products, diversified industrial products, insurance, media and entertainment, mining and metals, oil and gas, power and utilities, professional firms and services, real estate, retail and wholesale, technology, telecommunications, transportation.

The full report (PDF) is available from Ernst & Young.

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Derek Wong is a recognized expert at ShareGreen by Walmart, panel judge for Earth Day Canada, keynote speaker at Skills for the Green Economy, and guest speaker at University of Toronto. His innovative approach to employee engagement has led to case studies. Reach him by email or LinkedIn.

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