Annual sustainability survey among executives

Keeping tabs on the sentiments and perception of climate challenges and opportunities as well as its impacts on business among CxOs globally with specific results for Germany and ist automotive industry
Climate action is bringing about a major industrial transformation across a wide swathe of the economy. The recognition of this far-reaching change among senior leadership teams in the C-suite is a crucial early sign of this momentous shift. Every year, Deloitte surveys leaders across industries to take the pulse of sentiment about the climate crisis, climate action, and Sustainability. In Germany and worldwide, senior executives report experiencing negative impacts of the climate crisis while also exhibiting a certain optimism that the worst can be addressed by decisive action.
Regulatory uncertainty is reported as the top climate-related issue impacting companies today.

Global findings show increased apprehension but optimism at the same time

The executives surveyed clearly feel more apprehensive about the climate crisis since the last survey in 2020, with 79% saying they are very concerned about these developments in 2022. Practically all respondents globally reported that their companies have already been negatively affected by climate-related impacts, with about half experiencing negative impacts directly to their operations. Yet an overwhelming majority agrees that immediate action could limit the worst of the global climate crisis impacts.

Germany follows general global trend with some twists

Globally, the 105 executives across industries and various company sizes fall in line with the broad trend of increased concern while also displaying more optimism about the potential of immediate action to mitigate the climate crisis. In Germany, 77% of executives believe the world is at a tipping point for responding to climate change, in line with the optimistic outlook on climate action. However, the global survey shows more executives have been personally impacted by climate change and, while an overwhelming majority believes there is a climate emergency, the percentage is lower in Germany.

For both global and German executives, regulators/governments, consumers/clients/customers, and board members/management are the main drivers of action on climate change. Investors/shareholders play a relatively small role compared with the global average when it comes to setting the agenda for climate action, according to the respondents. Overall, the CxOs in Germany report less high/moderate pressure than their global peers. At the same time, regulatory uncertainty is reported as the top climate-related issue impacting companies today, as per 55% of respondents in Germany and 47% globally.

Brand recognition and reputation tops list of positive impact globally and in Germany

Forty-two percent reported that climate action taken positively affected brand recognition and reputation, closely followed by addressing climate change directly. Unlike the global survey, German managers report lower positive impact on financial metrics such as operating margins, investor returns, and revenue. And unlike global peers, one of the key obstacles reported by 40% of survey respondents in Germany is the difficulty in gauging the environmental impact of measures taken to address climate change.

Lastly, the survey aims to identify leading organizations by assessing whether they have implemented at least 4 out of 5 “needle-moving” sustainability actions and lagging organizations which implemented none or only one of them. The survey among German executives showed fewer organizations as leaders (15% compared to 19% globally).

Overall, climate leaders as per our definition above are substantially more concerned about the impacts of climate change and have responded with substantial action. For example, 82% of climate leaders worldwide have a plan to achieve net-zero by 2030 or earlier for their organization.

German automotive industry survey shows similar trends from 2021

Similar to the global CxO survey, in mid-2021 Deloitte Germany conducted a sustainability survey of 192 senior managers from the automotive industry in Germany. Similar to the global cross-industry picture, 89% of respondents consider sustainability a core aspect of their company, and nearly three out of four reported it as a senior executive or board level topic. Suppliers were overall slightly less committed than OEMs to including sustainability issues as a core aspect of their business.

40% of companies surveyed report that they are considering sustainability initiatives along the entire value chain, and nearly four out of five report positive impacts from sustainability efforts.

On the other hand, a majority of respondents perceives a gap between the communicated actions and the vision on sustainability and the organizations actual practice. The report is only available in German.


Bernhard Lorentz

Managing Partner Deloitte Sustainability & Climate GmbH
Global Consulting Sustainability & Climate Strategy Leader

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