TORONTO, May 20 /CNW/ - While the majority of Canadian companies (94%) say that climate change is currently an issue for them, they also believe that the primary responsibility for a behaviour shift when it comes to this issue lies primarily with the government and that current climate change policy is unclear and inconsistent. This, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report Appetite for Change, a close look at attitudes in the international business community towards environmental regulation, legislation and taxes.
In almost 700 interviews in 15 countries (53 in Canada), executives shared their perspectives on issues such as the impact of climate change, the role of government, preferred environmental policy tools, and the essential ingredients for an effective global climate change deal.
Key findings include:
- Ninety-four percent of Canadians surveyed expect to change the way
they do business over the next 2 - 3 years, with a third of
respondents (34%) saying there will be significant change (25%
- The overwhelming majority of Canadian respondents (98%) see regulatory
compliance as the biggest influencer over an organization's approach
to environmental issues (compared to 85% globally).
- The top climate change related issues that Canadian companies
anticipate will have the greatest impact on the way they do business
in the next 2 - 5 years are: reduction of emissions (14%), energy
efficiency (12%) and climate changes/global warming (12%). These were
closely followed by increasing regulation, enhancement of green
credentials, recycling and carbon capping (all at 10%).
Responsibility for Change
When it comes to climate change, 60% of Canadian respondents think that the government should have the primary responsibility for leading behavioural change, which is a significantly higher proportion than the global and US averages (44% and 23% respectively). On the other side of the spectrum, only 6% of Canadian respondents feel that business should have primary responsibility. Indeed, global and US respondents were more apt to put the responsibility on the shoulder of business (18% globally vs. 38% US). Close to one quarter of Canadian respondents (24%) believe that responsibility should be shared between government and business (27% globally and 21% in the US).
"Canadian business has a stronger and positive view about the role of government in driving change and how business responds to climate change compared to our neighbours to the south," says Leanne Sereda, partner and national leader of the Clean Energy group at PwC. "Business is looking to governments for leadership in establishing the behavioural change necessary to halt global warming."
But while Canadians may be supportive of government taking the lead on climate change, many do not feel that the current policy is effective in providing clear and consistent signals to business on the need to assess their environmental impact and energy usage (72% vs. 54% globally and 53% in the US). Most Canadians surveyed (70%) also do not feel that current government policy is effective in encouraging businesses to significantly change their environmental behaviour (56% globally, 51% in the US).
"Only one-third of Canadians surveyed told us they feel confident in making long-term investment and business decisions based on the current economic instruments from the Government," says Sereda. "The political leaders who address this and champion the necessary changes will have the best chance of creating historic solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing our ecosystem."
Incentives to Change
When it comes to the most effective way of getting business to reduce its impact on the environment, Canadian business clearly sees the answer to lie in a mixture of 'carrot and stick' with 92% opting for regulation and 90% for tax incentives. Indeed, an overwhelming majority of Canadian companies (98%) responded that tax and regulation will play a role in achieving targets on greenhouse gas emissions, with 94% responding that those targets should be set at the national level.
But only 18% of Canadian respondents feel that current tax incentives are sufficiently motivating them to make businesses changes to obtain them (compared to 24% globally and 27% in the US). Indeed, 90% of Canadians believe that the government needs to offer more incentives to support investment in environmentally beneficial activities, processes and new technologies, this response was similar globally (92%) and in the US (91%). Furthermore, more than half of Canadian respondents (52%) feel that meeting the criteria required by current tax incentives is too onerous to make the incentives worth applying for, similar to global and US findings (55% and 54% respectively).
"It's a mixture of penalties and rewards that is most likely to encourage business to reduce its impact on the environment," says Sereda. "Canadian business people are saying that, done in the right way, regulation can be welcomed rather than seen as a constraint."
The survey comprises almost 700 interviews worldwide (53 in Canada), covering 15 countries: US, EU (Canada, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Czech Republic), China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa and Australia. The sample was drawn from the top companies in each territory by turnover, with a particular focus on industries likely to be most affected by existing environmental policy and legislation. Respondents are the 'person in the organisation responsible for setting company policy and strategy towards managing its environmental impact and the main costs associated with this', which, for most companies, tends to be the Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Sustainability Director, the Environment Director, the Financial Director or the Head of Tax. Fieldwork commenced in September 2009 and concluded at the end of November 2009.
For more information on the Canadian perspective, please visit: www.pwc.com/ca/appetiteforchange. To view the entire Appetite for Change report including global findings, please visit www.pwc.com/appetiteforchange.
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