Paying the Apathy Tax: Climate Inaction Progressively Costly for U.S. Companies, New Report Finds
One-third of U.S. Companies Report Losing Business Over Their Competitors’ Sustainability Practices
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. companies are encountering significant, long-term consequences — including lost sales — for not proactively addressing the climate crisis, according to a new report from NEXT Energy Technologies, Inc., released today. Among measurable pressures from partners, government regulators and investors, 33% of companies surveyed reported losing business to their competitors because of insufficient climate practices. Without properly addressing these concerns, companies risk losing employees, sales and investments to more green competitors in an already volatile marketplace.
NEXT surveyed more than 200 cross-industry senior managers, executives and C-suite decision-makers to better understand the challenges businesses face in addressing the climate crisis and what they’re doing to meet the mounting pressures from regulators and the broader business ecosystem. The report, Paying the Apathy Tax: How Climate Inaction Will Cost Companies, defines the response to pressures on companies into two categories — “hard” and “soft” compliance with climate change mitigation measures.
Hard Climate Compliance:
A quick and direct response to factors beyond the company’s realm of control, including government mandates, regulations and environmental urgency.
Soft Climate Compliance:
A measured response to more abstract factors, including social contracts, investment in real progress, customer or public perception, profit or market access.
Corporate Leaders Are Pushing for Climate Action, But for Different Reasons
Across the board, U.S. companies are working to improve their sustainability practices — 80% reported that their business has taken a more active approach to its environmental impact over the last few years. When queried about the primary driver behind increased climate action, respondents cited their leadership’s personal interest in climate progress (49%), access to new environmental-focused markets (34%) and PR/company image goals (32%) as the top factors.
Customers (and Investors) Are Speaking with their Dollars
Customers are wielding their buying power — they are more educated and socially engaged than ever and recognize that their money and how they spend it has influence over what companies do with their sustainability plans.
Seventy-four percent of respondents believe their customers are now more interested in buying and engaging with companies more seriously addressing their environmental impact. The challenge of public perception is reflected in the steps companies say they’re taking to improve their impact and image:
- Improving their supply chain processes or engaging with more sustainable suppliers (45%)
- Improving their shipping and handling methods to decrease carbon emissions (41%)
- Implementation of renewable or energy-efficient/generating features (33%)
Companies also report facing pressure from the broader business ecosystem of investors, vendors and other professional service partners. Nearly half (46%) of respondents reported discussing sustainability issues when engaging with outside entities. Further, 77% reported altering their company’s environmental impact plan based on those conversations.
“Every rational, engaged and forward-thinking board or C-suite realizes the need to act with urgency to address the climate crisis,” said Daniel Emmett, co-founder and CEO of NEXT. “Climate mitigation is no longer just a federal regulation problem for oil companies or manufacturers — the broader business community and consumers are making it crystal clear that inaction has tangible economic and competitive consequences.”
Office Buildings as a Bellwether
Across the U.S., business leaders are facing regulatory changes from both the federal and state governments. As climate change moves from “issue” to “crisis,” governments at all levels are beginning to recognize the importance of sustainable changes, and expecting businesses to recognize their climate impact — and take the necessary steps to change it. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported that government environmental regulations have required them to change the functions of their business.
One of the clearest and most observable manifestations of these changes is in the physical characteristics of the buildings these companies occupy. In 2021, the California Energy Commission (CEC) voted to require builders in the state to include solar power and battery storage in certain new commercial structures as well as high-rise residential projects.
Seventy percent of respondents reported willingness to alter features of their physical buildings and other workspaces to meet increasing demands. The leading choices of change were adding energy-efficient or energy-generating features and improving water conservation methods.
What Counts as “Enough”? What Else is on the Line?
Of those surveyed, 71% believe their companies’ sustainability efforts are “enough” to meet impending regulatory requirements and consumer demand for action. In a previous report by NEXT, 74% of employees said they would consider leaving their job if their company wasn’t meeting their expectations for climate and sustainability.
As consumer, investor and even employee behavior continue to reward companies that go beyond the bare minimum of today, it’s imperative business decision-makers understand the risk of sales, employee and market attrition if they lag behind.
To download the full report and to learn more about NEXT, visit www.nextenergyinsights.com.
About NEXT Energy Technologies, Inc.
NEXT Energy Technologies is a Santa Barbara, California company developing transparent energy harvesting window technology that allows architects and building owners to transform windows and glass facades into producers of low-cost, on-site, renewable energy for buildings. NEXT’s technology is enabled by proprietary organic semiconducting materials that are earth-abundant, low-cost, and are coated as an ink in a high-speed, low-cost, and low energy process. For more information, visit https://www.nextenergytech.com/.
104 West Partners for NEXT Energy Technologies