Climate crisis is biggest challenge facing Australian businesses: EY survey

The impact of climate change has been rated as the biggest challenge facing Australian businesses, according to a recent survey on 155 Australian executives by accounting giant EY.

The survey found that 18% of Australian bosses ranked the climate crisis as the number one concern for their businesses, compared to just 9% in the 2,515 global participants, who instead rated the COVID-19 pandemic as the greatest threat.

“We think this reflects both the fact that locally the pandemic has been handled comparatively well and also our C-suite consider COVID’s impacts to be short term,” EY’s managing director of strategy and transactions, David Larocca, said.

“It also reflects the priority position investors are now giving sustainability and climate change when making their decisions.”

Inside Australia, rising investor pressure has driven mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto to release 2050 net zero emissions roadmaps, while major banks ANZ and NAB have committed to reducing or eliminating their funding for coal projects.

Meanwhile, the world’s two largest economies have ramped up their decarbonisation programmes, with China pledging carbon neutrality by 2060 and the US re-committing to the Paris agreement under President Joe Biden.

However, Mathew Nelson, a climate change and sustainability executive at EY, said there is scope to further educate Australian corporates about the ‘opportunities associated with achieving net zero emissions’.

“While the market is increasingly alert to the economic upsides of decarbonisation, in the near term Australian businesses are acknowledging that the economic reorganisation required to achieve net zero will create losers as well as winners, and time is running out to ensure you are the latter.”