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Home > Feature Articles > Consulting and Professional Services for Environmental, Green and Sustainability Sectors

Many Fortune 1000 Companies Not Prepared for Climate Risks

Half of survey respondents are not taking steps to address how climate change will affect their operations.

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Half of Business Executives Prepare for Catastropic Risks

A survey of 101 board-level executives by the Marsh Center for Risk Insights found in late 2007 that, although almost all companies have taken some steps to prepare for catastrophic risks, half of respondents are not taking steps to address how climate change will affect their operations.

The survey asked executives to rank the likelihood of eight risks, including natural disasters, international terrorist attacks, dramatically rising oil prices, global climate change, pandemics, a housing market collapse, emergence of human health and environmental risks associated with nanotechnology and massive water shortages.

Of these disasters, 58 percent of executives said they expect and have prepared for natural disasters, 55 percent are anticipating steep rises in the price of oil, and 38 percent say they've started preparations in the case of terrorist attacks.

However, only 12 percent of respondents felt that climate change was "very likely" to occur, and 50 percent indicated that they did not consider it a looming threat. The only disasters that executives were less concerned about were threats posed by nanotechnology, a global pandemic of disease, and widespread water shortages or pollution.

Despite the belief that such disasters are unlikely, 40 percent of executives surveyed said if they were to occur, even the least-likely disasters would be catastrophic to their businesses. And although 41 percent said a severe water shortage would cause a complete or partial shutdown of their business, only 17 percent have taken any steps to prepare for water shortages.

The reasons behind this lack of preparation, the survey's authors say, is that most executives believe that the risk may not be pertinent to their company, would be too large to manage or too costly to mitigate. However, 14 percent said that there was insufficient reward for mitigating the risk, and another 13 percent responded that "no one is telling us we must act."

The authors do note signs of encouragement from the survey, though. Only only 10 percent of respondents said that taking action would slow down the company, only 5 percent say someone else would manage the risk on their behalf, and just 4 percent felt that these disasters could never happen to "me or my organization."



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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