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Sustainability investments shifting towards climate adaptation as companies fear the impacts of extreme weather

Two-thirds of companies expect wildfires, floods and storms to have a material impact on their sustainability initiatives.
Melodie Michel
Investments are shifting towards climate adaptation
Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash

A majority of companies are changing their sustainability planning and investments based on recent extreme weather events, as they begin to see the impact of natural disasters on their environmental initiatives.

This is according to Honeywell and Futurum Group’s latest Environmental Sustainability Index, a quarterly survey of more than 750 sustainability professionals working in large corporations worldwide.

For the first time in Q4 2023, the index looked to determine how recent climate events have impacted or will impact sustainability efforts, and the results are telling: 62% of respondents expect recent wildfires, floods, and storms to have a material impact on their environmental initiatives, and another 45% admit the extreme heat has had or will soon have a material effect on their near-term plans.

These results point to the increasing need for companies to test the climate resilience of their sustainability strategies – something only 11% of those reporting in line with the TCFD recommendations do – and to implement climate adaptation measures. 

"The extreme weather events this year have increased the sense of urgency for immediate action at organisations," commented Gavin Towler, Chief Scientist for Sustainability and Chief Sustainability Officer at Honeywell.

Sustainability: a top priority for planning and investment

Sustainability is identified as a top priority by three quarters of those surveyed, and even more (80%) in Asia Pacific – this may explain why companies in the region tend to hire more Chief Sustainability Officers. In fact, the index reflects this trend, as it shows that sustainability responsibilities are more likely to be centralised in one role or department in Asia Pacific (46%) than in other regions.

As the urgency of the climate crisis is being felt, investment in sustainability initiatives is increasing across the board. The index reveals that the wide majority of companies plan to increase their investment in the energy transition (88%) and emissions reduction (84%), with about one-fifth planning to increase it by 50% or more.

Organisations are also reporting more than ever on sustainability progress, with 92% having a formal plan for disclosures

Daniel Newman, CEO of The Futurum Group, said: "The data is showing that organisations in the public and private sectors are actively forming frameworks to partake in either policy-driven or investment and technological-oriented action in effort to address the global objectives in environmental sustainability."