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UK businesses lacking critical skills needed to tackle climate change

Nov 25
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UK businesses lacking critical skills needed to tackle climate...

Climate change presents a significant risk to businesses and UK directors and C-suite executives understand the need to upskill employees as a result. KPMG and Eversheds Sutherland conducted a study of 113 representatives from leading companies to gauge the scale of the issue.

It found 75 per cent of respondents believe their company’s management must upskill to mitigate risks posed by climate change. Failure to do so could have a negative impact on jobs and 83 per cent of UK executives think climate risk will be the key catalyst in keeping or losing their jobs over the next five years.

In another section of the research, 500 business leaders were asked their opinions on the matter. Some 73 per cent agreed that management must work on their skillsets to ensure they are fully prepared to deal with any risks associated with climate change that may present themselves.

What are businesses doing to address the problem?

Just 22 per cent of those who responded said they work for an organisation that offers remuneration incentives to directors that reach the carbonisation targets they are set. And it’s not just pressure from above, as 35 per cent said employees are leaving firms where they’re unhappy about their employer’s impact on the environment.

Some 40 per cent of respondents shared that employees have actively shown their dissatisfaction with their firm’s climate impact. Further to this, 12 per cent of leaders acknowledged the difficulty in recruiting young people to their business, because of the firm’s stance on climate.

Bridget Beals, co-head of climate risk at KPMG in the UK, said: "Climate change is a strategic risk issue. The results of our survey demonstrated that business leaders are waking up to that fact, with 65 per cent of executives noting they need to better understand the climate risks their companies face.

“Whilst there has been big uptake in the number of companies disclosing in line with the TCFD framework in 2020, many are not yet quantifying the risks, which will make it difficult to drive the right strategic decisions at the Board level – it is crucial that this changes over the next 12 months to drive the decarbonisation we need to meet the Paris targets.”

Robust conversations needed

Dr Mark Carney, United Nations special envoy for Climate Action Finance and trustee of the World Economic Forum, and former Governor of the Bank of England, weighed in with his opinion. He urged company boards to conduct robust conversations about the risks and opportunities posed by climate change.

He also encouraged businesses to act early to turn such risks into commercial opportunities. In this way, Dr Carney explained, sustainable business models can be established to meet the demands of society and the standards that future generations deserve.

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