Business leaders increasingly see importance of climate plans: survey

TORONTO — A new survey finds Canadian business leaders increasingly see climate change plans as good for their bottom line.

The survey commissioned by BMO of 700 small and medium business leaders in Canada and the US found that 62 per cent of those north of the border see a climate change plan as good for business, up from 47 per cent in the survey last year.

Other pressures such as inflation, interest rates, labour shortages and supply chain bottlenecks, however, still ranked as more pressing.

Melissa Fifield, who leads BMO’s climate institute, says it’s encouraging to see more businesses recognize the importance of developing a climate plan.

She says the results of the survey, conducted in August, were likely influenced by the widespread wildfires at the time that showed the unpredictable and severe weather events that climate change can create.

Fifield says extreme weather has prompted business leaders to think more about the impacts to their supply chains, buildings and other operations.

“What we’re seeing is that when companies are experiencing firsthand the impacts of climate on their business operations, they are more likely to develop a plan. And also when they see the opportunities for business. It’s not just risk-based.”

Respondents in Canada cited costs as the biggest barrier to taking action, including to developing a climate plan.

Fifield said such plans can also find efficiencies and cost savings, along with commercial opportunities such as appealing to new customers.

Climate plans generally involve measuring key areas like energy use, along with ways to decarbonize and build resilience.

Nearly half of respondents said climate change is already affecting their business, while 81 per cent said the expect it to within the next five years.