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Surprising Survey Results Show That Companies Don’t Consider Climate Change a Threat

Polar Bear Survey Results Reveal Risk Assessment of Companies Across the Globe

The numbers, more specifically, financial reports, can say a lot about how companies operate; and in the most recent KPMG survey results of corporate social responsibility, the numbers are quite telling. According to the Wall Street Journal, the story behind the numbers is coming together to weave an interesting tale on climate change and cybersecurity.

More Than Finances

The head of KPMG’s sustainability services unit explains in the WSJ why their survey results are able to gleam so much information from annual financial reports. José Luis Blasco says that more than three-quarters of the world’s largest 250 companies are now including ‘non-financial’ information in their annual financial reports. He says that those companies usually set the tone for the smaller corporations. Blasco says his survey picked up on companies “enthusiastically” integrating financial and ‘non-financial’ information. He says that some of the information is now required by investors before taking a risk with companies. That’s what make the results on climate change, in particular, so intriguing.

Climate Change

Almost three-quarters of large and mid-size companies worldwide do not acknowledge the financial risks of climate change in their financial reports. In the WSJ summary of the KPMG survey results of the world’s top 250 companies (according to revenue) says that 52% of them don’t think climate change poses a financial risk. 72% of the top 100 companies in each of 49 countries mention climate financial risk either.

Here in the U.S., of the top 100 companies, 47% list climate change as a financial threat.

In a press release, KPMG company further explains why these survey results are so interesting. “Our survey shows that, even among the world's largest companies, very few are providing investors with adequate indications of value at risk from climate change.” They go on to say that their findings support the need for more initiatives put in place by the Financial Stability Board's Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Their goal is to improve corporate disclosure on the financial risk of climate change.

According to the survey, TCFD says that pressure is now on firms to disclose. The task force says some investors are demanding disclosure and a few countries are considering regulation to mandate that disclosure. They are also quoted as saying, “Some financial regulators have warned that failure to identify and manage climate risk is a breach of a Board's fiduciary duty. In this context, we encourage firms to move quickly. Those that don't could very soon start to lose investors and find the cost of capital and insurance cover escalates quickly.”

Cybersecurity

While climate change may be the most attention-grabbing financial risk addressed in the survey, the WSJ also pays close attention to cybersecurity; with good reason. With millions of transactions taking place completely online every day and companies gathering personal information—the threat of a breach looms over many of the world’s largest companies.

The survey gathered information from 900 IT security professionals. The survey results found that a quarter of those surveyed said their companies only audit user accounts once a year or less.

According to the WSJ, in a separate survey by the insurance provider, Hartford Steam Boiler found 45% of companies surveyed listed disgruntled employees as the biggest threat to the company’s cybersecurity. They listed hackers at 37%.

It gets a bit bleaker with this survey of over 700 board members and senior executives worldwide. The IT professional organization Isaca, found that 61% of respondents acknowledged a rising risk of cyber threats. But only 55% said their company is “doing everything it can” to fight the threat and protect data.

The Future

However, the WSJ does highlight an interesting trend in the area of cybersecurity. A survey by the by software firm Cylance Inc. found that of 650 companies it talked with, 70% are using artificial intelligence to fight the cyber threat. And that’s actually good news because according to their respondents, AI was 81% faster at spotting a threat that it’s human counterparts.

Jeffrey A. Newman represents whistleblowers: 1-800-682-7157

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