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Australian executives increase sustainability investment as climate action shifts from voluntary to mandatory

18 JANUARY 2023: While Australian business has proudly led the charge on climate action, they recognise that regulators are catching up fast, signalling the start of a shift from voluntary action to mandatory transition. 78% of executives say a fast changing Australian regulatory environment motivated climate action in 2022.

Climate change features prominently as one of the top three issues facing executives, behind the economic outlook and the search for talent, with 68% of executives reporting that they have increased their investment in sustainability over the last year.

Released today, Deloitte’s 2023 CxO Sustainability Report: Accelerating the Green Transition also found most Australian business leaders (79%) remain optimistic that economic growth can be achieved while also reaching climate change goals.

The survey, part of a global survey of executives, takes a deep dive into the concerns and actions of Australian business leaders when it comes to climate change and sustainability. Other key findings include:

  • 56% say climate change is likely to impact their companies’ strategies and operations to a “high/very high” degree over the next three years
  • 57% say they feel concerned about climate change all or most of the time
  • 80% are somewhat or extremely optimistic that the world will take sufficient steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change
  • 63% cite employees as a reason for the organisation’s actions on sustainability.

Head of Deloitte Access Economics Dr Pradeep Philip, said: “Australian business executives are starting to see the shift from volunatry action to mandated change. The recent proposed change to the safeguard mechanism and emissions targets for big polluters show the regulatory environment is changing. This trend is likely to continue, marking the end of the age of voluntary action and the beginning of a new period of mandatory transition.

“This year’s report also highlights the broadening drivers for change – employees, customers, investors, shareholders, and regulators - for executives and organisations in Australia and around the world. But there is more to do and the pressures to invest in sustainability will only continue to grow.“

While executives are united on some of the key benefits of climate action such as brand recognition, employee engagement and positively impacting a shared world crisis, only 31% cited investor returns as a key benefit of accelerated climate action. Done right, rapid decarbonisation presents the single biggest growth opportunity for Australian business and we expect to see this recognition shift as fast movers take the benefit of stakeholder demand for action.”

Recommendations to accelerate the green transition

Deloitte’s 2023 survey shows that CxOs do believe that both their organisations and the global economy can continue to grow while reaching climate goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So, how can they help close the gap between ambition and action?

Deloitte’s report offers several recommendations to help CxOs get started, including embedding climate goals into their overall business strategy and purpose, building trust by taking credible climate actions, empowering the board, encouraging stakeholder action, investing in today’s (and tomorrow’s) technologies, and collaborating to drive systems-level change.

To dive into the recommendations and learn more about Deloitte’s 2023 CxO Sustainability Report, please visit: