NEWS12 April 2024

Boards need to address barriers to climate change action

News Sustainability UK

UK – The biggest barriers for board directors to take action on climate change are a lack of prioritisation, driven by a focus on short-term thinking, knowledge gaps and a lack of financial incentive, according to data from Kantar and the Climate Governance Initiative.


The data, based on survey responses and in-depth interviews with non-executive director members of the Climate Governance Initiative in 20 countries, showed that only 40% of boards are carrying out climate-related reporting and 56% have no plans to publish a climate change transition plan.

However, the initiative and Kantar said that the number of boards doing climate-related reporting is expected to rise substantially to 72% in the next year.

In addition, while 57% of respondents said that the climate is central to their business strategy today, 77% believe that it will transform their business model over time, with board directors making progress in addressing climate change through business strategy, policy and reporting.

Globally, 86% of board directors regarded climate transformation as a business opportunity, and nine in 10 said that the climate challenge requires new forms of leadership from boardrooms.

The vast majority ( 93%) of non-executive directors feel that they are in a position to influence their organisation’s direction on climate, with 84% saying they were either somewhat or highly engaged with the subject.

Alexandra Bolton, director at the Climate Governance Initiative, said: “This research shows that nine out of 10 board directors believe it is their role to influence how businesses respond to the climate challenge, but many are held back by a variety of factors including knowledge gaps.

“This important study provides crucial insight that will help us remove barriers to progress for board directors and make a real difference to the impact that boards can make to the climate crisis.”

Jonathan Hall, managing partner at Kantar’s Sustainable Transformation Practice, added: “While it is great to see this leadership from the top, too many companies are still failing to unlock the opportunity presented by a transition to sustainable growth.

“Positively, it looks like we will see an acceleration in transition planning in the near future, and I’m confident that the board members engaging with the Climate Governance Initiative’s Chapters will be leading their companies in turning intention into action for growth built on a sustainable future.”