Despite widespread warnings of resource scarcity over the next few decades, a significant proportion of global businesses are not prepared to address the predicted shortfall, according to new research by Carbon Trust.
The U.K.-based organization’s survey of 475 executives in the U.S., Brazil, China, Korea and the U.K. revealed while a majority acknowledged that their companies would have to charge more for their products and services as a result of resource constraints, 43 percent are not monitoring risks posed by incidents such as energy price increases and environmental disasters. Over 50 percent have not developed goals to reduce their company’s consumption of water, waste production or carbon emissions.
Many executives surveyed -- 41 percent -- don't believe significant changes to their business operations to prepare for future resource constraints will be needed until five to 15 years down the road. Just 20 percent of those surveyed reported their companies are currently making changes.
“The research shows that many organizations are asleep at the wheel when it comes to addressing sustainability and resource scarcity, doing nothing to address a problem they indicate could hit their operations by 2018,” said Tom Delay, Carbon Trust's chief executive.
Close to half (47 percent) of those surveyed felt taking action on sustainability-related issues decreased profits, and one-quarter reported that their companies did not have an employee charged with taking the lead on sustainability.
"Too often businesses see taking action on resource and sustainability issues as an obligation and a cost," Delay said. "We know from our extensive work on carbon that good management of resources can lead to new commercial opportunities and thriving businesses."
Geographical differences were apparent. While U.K. businesses reported spending the most on sustainability -- and were the most likely to believe that a business case exists for reducing carbon emissions and waste production -- Brazilian companies were the least likely to have a sustainability program in place.
Business-to-business companies appeared to be more likely than consumer-facing companies to act within a shorter timeframe in preparation for resource constraints. On average, consumer-facing companies felt that their businesses wouldn't be affected until 10 years from now, compared to four years for business-to-business companies. One-third of the consumer-facing companies reported that they had no plans to develop a sustainability program at all.
The survey was administered in October 2012.
View the Carbon Trust infographic below for more details on the survey.