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Leaders are aware of the climate change crisis but not all of them are adapting their strategies

The challenge of the climate change crisis is well entrenched among leaders (80% of them), but way too few of them take it into account in their strategy, often due to a lack of information and support. This is one of the findings revealed in the Bpifrance le Lab survey, published on Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

The Covid-19 crisis, coupled with the climate change crisis, has plunged business leaders and citizens alike into a rapidly changing environment. In addition to working on this adaptability, the climate and the environment have become important issues for all companies.

80% of managers are aware of the pressing climate issue, nonetheless, it remains a secondary factor in their strategy. Only 13% declare that they will be able to reduce their carbon emissions within 5 years. The study* published on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, by Bpifrance le Lab, reveals that the green transition is aborted due to a lack of information and support for leaders.

Feeling concerned by the climate emergency

Carried out before the Covid-19 crisis and focused on the psychology of leaders, the survey nevertheless draws this climatic tipping point of new interest. "When we talk about climate, we think about consumers and citizens. The relationship with leaders, which is often less discussed, is no less crucial," says Pascal Lagarde, Bpifrance's executive director in charge of strategy, studies and development.

Even if 86% of managers feel concerned by global carbon emission reduction targets, only 51% say they have taken this issue into account in their business strategy. The majority focus on optimizing existing strategies or implementing "green gestures".

Having a hard time considering this issue in their entrepreneurial ambitions, business leaders take too little action. Only 10% of them consider a change in business model as a lever to reduce their environmental footprint.

Among the obstacles mentioned: the lack of financial resources (49% of cases), the absence of technological solutions (32%) and even the lack of recognition of their customers (29%).

When asked what they would like to see to help them in this transition, managers notably expect support from public authorities: on the one hand, financial incentives, in the form of subsidies (64%) or tax aid (59%) and on the other hand, regulatory changes (49%).

Information and support at the very heart of the process

The study categorizes leaders into three profiles regarding their feelings about the climate change crisis: the "convinced", the "opportunists" and the "constrained". 67% of them say they would adapt their company to climate issues out of conviction, rather than out of opportunity or constraint. This means that more of them will select suppliers based on environmental criteria, which is good news.

One of the lessons that Bpifrance learns from this study is the lack of information and support, which often takes its toll on the commitment to the transition. Most business leaders (90%) feel informed about climate issues. On the other hand, only 26% really understand them, so a great deal of work is being done to raise awareness.

The more informed an executive is, the more he or she acts. Therefore, the educational exercise proves to be necessary. In the opposite direction, too, the willingness to act can encourage people to become informed. For example, companies that have been affected by climatic disasters have subsequently put in place adaptation and prevention measures.

This observation increases the need for entrepreneurs to be informed and supported. The Bpifrance laboratory formulates the need to launch this transition, notably through the creation of an ecosystem. In concrete terms, "we must accompany the entrepreneur on their playground". This is also an opportunity to get closer to technologies, with the possibility of a French Tech/ French Fab connection.

The study proves the necessity to guide entities towards the right path, in the process of decarbonization. Large companies will definitely find their way, but as far as SMEs are concerned, the road will be steeper, even though they seem to have a lot of energy...

*Methodology: The study is based on a quantitative and qualitative approach. An online survey was conducted among 85,143 managers of SMEs and ETIs between January 23 and March 18 2020 (turnover between 2 million and 1.5 billion euros). The survey gathered a total of 1,006 responses (1.2% response rate). In addition, interviews were conducted with experts and managers, as well as analyses on three economic sectors (agri-food, transport and construction): 19 managers and 10 experts in different sectors (agri-food, industry, energy, construction and transport).

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