DAVOS, Switzerland – Climate issues are set to become one of the main points of discussion at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week, but a study by CEOs published on Monday shows that they are not even ranked among the top ten threats to business growth.
In its annual report ahead of the Davos meeting, finance group PwC said climate change and environmental issues were ranked as the 11th biggest threat to their companies’ growth prospects. Although climate-related issues have risen a notch compared to the same study a year ago, climate-related issues lag far behind other concerns such as over-regulation, which ranks as the number 1 concern. Other concerns in the top 10 include trade disputes, lack of skills among workers and populism in politics.
According to the survey, 24% of CEOs are “extremely concerned” about climate-related issues, compared to 38% for over-regulation.
As they gather for the World Economic Forum, CEOs and politicians such as US President Donald Trump will face increasing pressure from environmental groups and activists such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg to respond to the climate crisis. The meeting follows last week’s revelation that the last decade was the warmest ever recorded on Earth.
The survey also showed that the number of CEOs who are pessimistic about the economic outlook has almost doubled over the past year, with 53% predicting a decline in the growth rate this year, up from 29% in 2019. This is the highest level. of pessimism registered by PwC since it began examining the issue in 2012 and illustrates how the trade conflict between the US and China has weighed on the global economy.
PwC said pessimism was widespread, but especially in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East.
“Given the persistent uncertainty about trade tensions, geopolitical issues and the lack of agreement on how to deal with climate change, the decline in confidence in economic growth is not surprising – even if the magnitude of the mood change is,” said Bob Moritz, chairman of PwC- the network.
“These challenges facing the global economy are not new. But the scale of them and the rate at which some of them are escalating are new. The key question for leaders gathering in Davos is: how do we get together for to tackle them?
PwC conducted 1,581 interviews, mainly online, with CEOs in 83 countries between September and October 2019. It weights the sample according to national GDP to ensure that directors’ views are fairly represented in all major regions.
Pan Pylas, Associated Press