Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Climate change slightly more of a priority for chief executives, says Pwc survey

Slightly more of the world’s chief executives (CEOs) put climate change on their list of concerns in 2021 compared to the year before. This is according to the 24th edition of PwC’s annual global CEO survey, which shows that in 2021 30% of chief executives selected climate change as an extreme concern. Last year, only 24% selected climate change as a concern.

The report further notes, however, that 27% of chief executives report being “not concerned at all” or “not very concerned” about climate change. And 60% of chief executives have not yet factored climate change into their strategic risk management activities.

At a country level, the PwC results show a moderately negative correlation between exposure to natural hazards and companies’ preparedness for climate-related risk. Companies in the countries with the most exposure, which are also among the largest contributors to carbon emissions, are less likely to have embedded climate change into their overall risk management approach, the report finds.

The decarbonisation imperative is particularly challenging for certain industries and regions, the report adds.

In South Africa, the government is in the process of taking actions to force industries to curb emissions. 

These include publishing guidelines to ensure industries accurately report greenhouse gas emissions and implementing sectoral emissions targets and carbon budgets. The carbon tax will enforce the carbon budget in that sectors will be taxed at a high rate if they exceed their budget.

The PwC report also notes that in 2021 more chief executives have a positive outlook on the global economy. According to the report, 76% believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months. In 2020, only 22% expected conditions to improve.

“CEOs’ optimism also reflects momentum in vaccine development and roll-out in parts of the world,” the report reads.

“We are by no means out of the woods, but CEOs see a path forward — for the global economy, and for their own organisations.”

Chief executives’ confidence has also rebounded, with 36% saying they are “very confident” about their organisations’ prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months. In 2019, 35% gave this answer.

In South Africa, however, business confidence fell in the first quarter of 2021. This is according to the business confidence index, calculated by Rand Merchant Bank and the Bureau of Economic Research

The index declined from 40 to 35 in the quarter. 

“This means close to seven out of 10 senior executives expressed their dissatisfaction with prevailing business conditions, up from six previously. Such low confidence levels continue to highlight the fragility of the economic recovery,” the press statement accompanying the release of the index read. 

According to the statement, confidence fell across all the five sectors covered by the index. Retail experienced the biggest decline, followed by manufacturing and new vehicle dealers. The survey was conducted in the second half of February when many Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were already lifted and disruptions because of load-shedding were less pronounced than they are currently.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

More top stories

Almost two million voters register for local elections

Young people make use of online portal and women account for more than half of the total registered

Free State regions cry foul after dissolution by interim provincial...

Regional ANC leaders have asked Duarte to intervene after the interim provincial committee resolved to dissolve their branches ahead of local government elections

ANC unlikely to replace Joburg mayor Matongo before 1 Nov

A party source said the ANC in Johannesburg would most likely call on one of the mayoral committee members to stand in as mayor until the local elections

Ramaphosa hits the right notes as he urges Cosatu to...

Cosatu meets to deliberate on its support for the governing party in the upcoming local government elections

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…