Corporate Sustainability in the Wake of Climate Change: Insights from the Environmental Sustainability Index

    The final Environmental Sustainability Index of 2023 explores how record-setting temperatures and natural disasters are influencing sustainability initiatives at companies around the world.

    Due to climate change in combination with the El Niño weather pattern, this June, July and August was the hottest summer season on record globally, according to the European Union (EU)’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, and 2023 as a whole is set to break temperature records.

    The rise in temperatures has led to more frequent extreme weather events like floods, droughts and wildfires. A series of natural disasters impacted several countries over a 12-day period in September, from flooding in Libya to typhoons in Asia. Canada’s record-breaking 2023 wildfires burned an area roughly the size of the state of North Dakota, according to findings from the NASA Earth Observatory

    The wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui were the deadliest in the US in at least 100 years, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Between January and August 2023, the US alone saw 23 separate weather and climate disasters each with losses exceeding $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    With these natural disasters and other extreme climate events at the forefront of climate change discussions, the fifth edition of Honeywell’s Environmental Sustainability Index asked corporate sustainability leaders and decision-makers how this year’s weather patterns are impacting sustainability initiatives at their companies. 

    The index, which is released quarterly and produced in collaboration with Futurum Research, is based on a double-blind survey of 751 business, technology and sustainability professionals involved with planning, strategic development, implementation or oversight of environmental sustainability initiatives.

    Get a preview of the trends from the latest index, and read the full report here.

    The majority of companies report that recent weather events are impacting their sustainability programs

    62% of surveyed companies globally say weather-related natural disasters (wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, typhoons, etc.) during 2023 will have a material impact on their environmental initiatives

    Extreme heat is impacting how many respondents in North America and Europe are planning for the near future

    45% of surveyed companies in North America and Europe said the extreme heat will have or has already had a material effect on their near-term sustainability plans 

    For more insights on corporate sustainability leadership, listen to this podcast episode featuring Honeywell Senior Vice President and General Counsel Anne Madden, who discusses how companies can make meaningful progress on sustainability commitments through sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.