Business and climate change: May 2021

Publication date: June 2021


We survey New Zealand businesses every six months to test where they stand on climate change. Are they concerned? Taking action? How does it stack up against other business priorities?

The most recent results highlight some concerning trends, alongside a window of opportunity. There have been fundamental shifts in the mindset of New Zealand businesses, post pandemic, and many businesses are taking a backwards step when it comes to climate action. We're at a critical moment.

The impact of Covid-19

Compared to the end of 2020, businesses are starting to feel a return to normality, with a 14 point decrease in businesses reporting they’re “surviving”, and an 8 point increase in those reporting ‘business as usual”.

The impact of covid-19 on New Zealand business - May 2021.

But after-effects still remain: two-thirds report a change in the way they work, though this proportion is reducing. Mental and physical health impacts are being felt more now than at the end of 2020.


Business priorities

Unsurprisingly, the top issue for Kiwi businesses is the economy. As concern over the economy has grown, prioritisation of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions has fallen.


Improving efficiency and ways of working are still top priorities for businesses. “Making the world a better place” and “preserving our natural environment” reached their highest position since we began monitoring, at 20% and 15%.

But climate urgency, belief and support for action are all declining

  • 68% believe climate change is real
  • 66% believe now is the time to act on climate change

Barriers to climate action

Perceived cost and busy-ness are the greatest impediments to climate action, and the perception of those barriers has grown in the last two years.


Less action taken – but good signs here

While businesses have reported less action taken overall, more have reported reducing their driving, compared to the rolling average. It’s likely this is due to the lasting effects of Covid-19, such as more working and meeting remotely, and remains to be seen whether this is a permanent change.


The opportunity


It's unsurprising that business are focusing on efficiency, with their most pressing concerns reducing costs and retaining customers. Post-Covid, it was almost inevitable that climate action would be pushed further down the list.

But climate action could be an opportunity to save money and operate more effectively – while also reducing a business’s impact on the planet.

The Business sector is responsible for 40% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, they're hugely important for contributing to New Zealand's zero-carbon goals. But 70% them don't know where to go for information.

Our Gen Less platform has the resources businesses need to get started on their climate action no matter their size or sector.

Tools and guidance(external link)

A one-stop shop for organisations to assess their climate impact and identify actions(external link)

Co-funding and support programmes

Read the full report