Deloitte says 41% of Aussie execs want new tech to tackle climate change, social issues

While globally only 48% of business leaders believe that climate change will have a negative impact on their business operations, 81% of Aussie executives feel this impact exists.

Deloitte last year conducted a global survey on over 2,000 C-level executives across 19 countries. Of those respondents, 151 hailed from Australia.

The report [PDF] focuses on corporate social responsibility, with Australian executives taking the lead on highlighting the importance of acknowledging climate change.

While globally only 48% of business leaders believe that climate change will have a negative impact on their business operations, 81% of the Aussie executives feel this way.

See also: Climate change: 9 ways you can make a difference (CNET)

"With an increasing number of catastrophic, climate-related events affecting populations and geographies, CXOs are beginning to feel, or at least understand, the business imperatives of climate change," the report says.

"Because CXOs see environmental issues as threats to their business operations, it's unsurprising that they're also investing in initiatives and solutions aimed at mitigating the potential effects of climate change."

83% of Australian business leaders cited tackling climate change as their generation's responsibility to solve. And 57% believe their generation is responsible for encouraging environmental sustainability -- up from the global average of 38%.

According to Deloitte, 41% want to use new technologies to counteract the effects of climate change and positively impact society. Globally, this was only 23%.

In a similar survey conducted two years ago, just 7% of Australian executives -- and 10% globally -- believed their companies could influence environmental sustainability to a significant degree.

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On which societal issues are leaders focused?

The report says 70% of executives believe that long-term business success requires the integration of "Industry 4.0 technologies" into their operations.

65% of Australian business leaders said they see artificial intelligence (AI) as the Industry 4.0 technology to likely have the most profound impact on the world.

This was followed by nano-tech with 61%.

See also: How AI could save the environment (TechRepublic)

"Business is increasingly recognising its role in proactively contributing to society and acting to make a difference to local communities," Deloitte Australia chief strategy and innovation officer Robert Hillard said.

"Australian businesses appear to be more socially-minded than their global counterparts."

Hillard said the world is moving into a new era where "shifting community attitudes have made it an imperative for businesses to place societal responsibility at the heart of their strategies".

"We're also seeing business leaders increase their focus and attention on climate and environmental sustainability. Our research indicates that industry leaders acknowledge the business imperative of climate change and the associated risks to their business," he continued.

"Climate-related disasters will have a significant economic impact and businesses need to demonstrate to investors that they are taking appropriate steps to mitigate their exposure. We anticipate that climate risk stress testing will become a key imperative for Australian businesses in 2020."

The report said more than 90% of executives said their companies have sustainability initiatives in place or on the drawing board.

The survey took place before the devastating Australian bushfire crisis commenced late last year.

"We can assume that Australian executives would feel even more strongly about businesses helping to address climate change and encouraging sustainability for the long term," Hillard said.

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