Following the hottest US summer on record, fires in Russia, drought in the Balkans and flooding in the UK, Japan and Thailand, eight out of 10 major companies now believe that their operations or supply chains could be put at risk by climate change.
According to a new report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the increased prevalence of extreme weather events means that climate change is climbing the boardroom agenda, with more than a third (37 per cent) of companies now perceiving these risks as a real and present danger compared to just one in 10 two years ago.
Of the 500 companies who responded to the CDP Global 500 survey, 379 – almost eight out of 10 - say they are now integrating climate change into their business strategy, up from 68 per cent last year.
"Extreme weather events are causing significant financial damage to markets," says Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project. "Investors therefore expect corporations to think more about climate resilience. There are still leaders and laggards but the economic driver for action is growing, as is the number of investors requesting emissions data. Governments seeking to build strong economies should take note."
The CDP report was co-written by PwC on behalf of 655 institutional investors and attempts to provide an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at the world's largest public corporations. Bayer and Nestle topped the table for climate change transparency and action.
But while it suggests that reported emissions from major businesses have fallen by almost 14 per cent since 2009 when the global economic crisis began to take hold, almost a third of the companies surveyed report no emissions reduction at all and only four out of 10 say that their emissions reductions were just down to any active steps they had taken to tackle climate change.
Malcolm Preston, global lead on sustainability and climate change at PwC, said: "Even with progress year on year, the reality is the level of corporate and national ambition on emission reductions is nowhere near what is required.
"The new normal for businesses is a period of high uncertainty, subdued growth and volatile commodity prices. If regulatory certainty doesn't come soon, businesses' ability to plan and act, particularly around energy, supply chain and risk, could be anything but normal."
Governments have not translated declarations on tackling climate change into ambitious legislation or national emissions targets, and low corporate ambition reflects that situation, he added.