In the wake of the Copenhagen summit, many executives are taking a view that "the jury is still out" on the seriousness of climate change and behaving in a cautious manner similar to that of businesses addressing the internet in 1995, according to experts.
Copenhagen was widely seen as a disappointment by supporters of change and a new global survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) based on a poll conducted in January, a month after the summit, suggests that progress on carbon reduction is slowing or even going backwards. Of 542 executives surveyed, 49 per cent said they have a coherent strategy to address issues, compared to 54 per cent a year ago. Also, 52 per cent of executives said that conflicting reports had left them unsure on how serious a problem climate change represents and 46 per cent said that they were more pessimistic than a year ago about the likelihood of politically-led change.
It would also appear that many organisations see window dressing as a significant aspect of carbon reduction efforts with PR being given as the highest single business consideration.
"Business does not appear to be moving ahead and net gains [in the last year] are essentially zero," said Iain Scott, EIU senior editor. "It feels a bit like the internet in 1995 with geeks in the garage."
Although many companies were clearly struggling with economic conditions there was "no clear correlation" between attitudes to carbon reduction and the state of the economy, he added.
However, he added that companies such as Siemens and GE were building large businesses as larger firms, especially publicly-quoted and heavily regulated concerns, pushed on with their efforts to reduce carbon footprints.
Alec Selvon-Bruce, eco-efficiency champion at Hitachi Europe, said that, despite the findings, large businesses were being forced to demonstrate their green credentials as sales prospects demanded more stringent evidence of energy-efficiency throughout the computer storage company's supply chain. "The threat is that we're not invited to the table [in competitive bids]," he added.
The After Copenhagen report was sponsored by the Carbon Trust, IBM, Hitachi and 1E.