Firms pull heads from sand but still unready for carbon laws

When President Barack Obama gave his inaugural address on Jan. 21, he gave a strong signal that climate change would be a priority of his second administration.

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said.

How this will be carried out is unclear, but American energy and utility companies seem to have received the message. That's the conclusion from a survey conducted by environmental tracking and reporting software company Enviance at the recent Energy, Utility and Environment Conference (EUEC 2013) in Arizona.

The conference, which began in 1995, is the largest energy, utility and environment gathering in the U.S. This year it brought together more than 2,000 delegates, including company executives from the energy and utility industry, environmental professionals, government policymakers and representatives from NGOs and advocacy organizations. Conference topics included air policy and regulations, biofuels and biomass, sustainability and water, energy efficiency and renewable energy, among others.

Enviance has been surveying participants over the past four years about the impact of regulation and sustainability issues on their companies or organizations, in the case of government agencies or NGOs.

"We talked to about 200 attendees representing a wide range of companies and organizations, from business leaders who manage compliance of environmental regulations to policymakers that help design those regulations, and the energy executives who play a big role in meeting our energy goals and mandates," Darryl Gordon, Enviance's marketing vice president, told CSRwire.

The results are striking. They show that while the respondents are aware that the regulatory environment is changing around energy and climate issues, most are unprepared for it.

Next page: Most without plans to manage carbon's financial risks