2 December 2015

Nearly every country in the world is represented at the current UN climate summit in Paris but, according to a survey by Aston University, the politicians will struggle to convince business of the need for change — even assuming that they reach agreement.

Over a third (38%) of business leaders told Aston researchers that they did not see climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy as a concern, while another 41% saw it as just of minor importance.

While a healthy two-thirds (66%) agreed that their business has a responsibility to do something about climate change and should support the transition to a low-carbon economy, only 7% have adapted their corporate strategy and future business plans to accommodate the issue.

Professor Dame Julia King, the university's Vice-Chancellor, said that it was evident that, at present, businesses are not prepared and equipped to respond to the challenge.

She argued that students are the key to businesses making a change, given that young people are looking to business to address the challenges of climate change, with nearly a fifth (19%) saying that, when they graduate, it will be important that any future employer is contributing in this area.

While 43% of businesses looking for new staff with knowledge of climate change believe that graduate applicants are prepared on the issue, nearly two-thirds (59%) of employers say they do not require new recruits to have any knowledge or understanding of the subject.

One that does is KPMG.

Associate Director, Sustainability Services, Ben Wielgus said: "KPMG this year has recruited around 1000 graduates in the UK, and our clients hire tens of thousands more. For us, it is increasingly important that all of these graduates understand the challenges and opportunities from climate change and wider sustainability topics."