UK firms fail to take climate risk seriously: study

LONDON Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:30pm GMT

The Canary Wharf business district of London, November 13, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The Canary Wharf business district of London, November 13, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - British companies are failing to take the strategic implications of climate change seriously and are missing out on investment opportunities, a study sponsored by three major UK investors said Monday.

Firms are addressing the impact of major climate-linked events, but are neglecting to manage incremental changes or extend their focus into supply chains, raw materials or logistics, the study found.

The report comes as climate change takes center stage ahead of a key conference in Copenhagen next month, where world leaders are expected to lay the groundwork, if not finalize the details, for a successor to the Kyoto treaty.

The study -- issued by Henderson Global Investors, Insight Investment and the universities pension scheme, USS -- found that companies were still adopting a wait-and-see attitude in the hope of a definitive public policy response of the kind now looking fragile for Copenhagen.

"We were left with the impression, with the notable exception of the water sector, that climate change adaptation is not yet recognized as a strategic issue warranting board-level attention and oversight," said the study, conducted with consultant Acclimatise.

"We noted that companies continue to see climate change primarily in terms of downside. However, from an investment perspective, climate change may also present opportunities," the investors said.

Investment opportunities may come through investments in companies such as construction firms which build flood defenses or producers of sun/rain resistant building cladding, they said.

(Reporting by Cecilia Valente; editing by Joel Dimmock and Simon Jessop)