There is no denying that climate change is real, and it is already having a huge impact on people’s lives across the world.
2021 was the 45th year in a row that global temperatures exceeded the 20th century average. The years 2013 to 2021 also featured among the top warmest years on record.
This rise in global temperatures is already triggering heatwaves, more extreme storms, floods and droughts across the world, and the situation is only set to worsen unless urgent action is taken.
While governments need to lead the way, and individuals have a role to play, businesses also have a responsibility to mitigate their negative impact on the environment.
Interestingly, research by Kite Insights found that employees expect their employers to step up.
While 93% of 7,000 workers in 10 countries think climate change is a real threat to their lives and the Earth, only 34% think their employer is doing enough around climate action.
55% think their company has an important role to play in tackling the climate crisis, and the same proportion want their employer to make their operations more eco-friendly.
They are frustrated by the inaction around climate change, and it is pushing them to consider quitting.
Kite Insight’s research found that 15% “considered changing jobs in order to work more closely on climate-related issues within the last 12 months. This figure rose to 20% amongst the most engaged employees (those who already had a relatively high degree of knowledge about climate change and who were already highly motivated act)”.
The report continued: “With the labor market already competitive and still dealing with the repercussions of the ‘Great Resignation’, employers are under pressure to ensure that their employees are able to combine personal motivation with work opportunities; and climate action is no exception.”
95% said employer action on environmental issues was important for their motivation and their wellbeing, while 56% said they linked climate action with job satisfaction.
The report concluded: “Businesses cannot afford to lose people who are future engines of acceleration, implementation and innovation.
“If these climate champions were given the means and mandate to act, they would unlock new sources of momentum and solution-building, potentially bringing entire teams of people with them.”
Employees need climate change training
Another important finding of Kite Insight’s survey was that while 83% of employees are ready and willing to tackle the climate crisis at work, they are not properly equipped to do so.
Just 34% of the 7,000 respondents said they could comfortably explain their company’s climate commitments – this dropped to 22% for younger workers.
In addition, only 53% felt sufficiently prepared to properly champion climate action in their teams.
Talking about this finding, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research’s director Johan Rockström commented: “Businesses, and therefore all employees, are in the midst of the climate crisis, and what happens over the coming few years, will determine the outcome both for the planet and for the competitive edge of companies.
“It is therefore essential that all employees are up to speed with the latest science, engage with the frontier work on aligning businesses with science-based targets, and contribute to transform their companies and industries, to secure jobs and prosperity.”
In her introduction to the report, Kite Insights’ CEO Sophie Lambin wrote: “While we must recognize that businesses might not be able to reach every single one of their employees, their next step is clear: they must bridge the climate knowledge gap to transform their value chains.
“As companies strive to deliver on the 1.5 degree Celsius goal, employee engagement will be one of the main indicators and predictors of business performance and resilience.
“The companies whose employees are ready to embrace and pursue change, equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead the green transformation, will build a lasting competitive edge.
“Their brands will be respected by customers, they will attract and retain the best talent, be resilient in the face of an evolving regulatory landscape, and be able to innovate more successfully in our current climate.
“Engaged and upskilled employees will be a secret weapon for businesses undertaking the challenges and opportunities ahead.
“It was people who got us into this mess, and it’s people, therefore, who will get us out.”
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