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Executives’ engagement with climate science and perceived need for business adaptation to climate change

Abstract

The business community has been frequently criticized for its lack of engagement with climate change, not just in terms of mitigation but increasingly also in terms of adaptation. One reason why executives may not take more decisive action on adaptation is the type of information they rely on for decision-making purposes. From this perspective, executives who engage more with scientific information sources for decision-making purposes would be likely to have a more comprehensive understanding of climate change, and would consequently be more concerned about their company’s vulnerability and adaptation needs. So far, however, there is limited evidence showing that executives’ lack of engagement with scientific information influences their perception that climate change is a serious issue. In this paper, we use survey data collected from 125 executives across the top 500 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX-500) to examine the links between how executives obtain information on climate change and their perceived need for adaptation action. Findings show that executives who report greater engagement with scientific information express greater concern about their company’s vulnerability, which also translates into a greater perceived need for adaptation action. Making scientific information accessible to executives is therefore important for communicating climate science to a business audience.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reveiwers as well as Len Coote, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and participants at the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA) for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Martina K. Linnenluecke.

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Linnenluecke, M.K., Griffiths, A. & Mumby, P.J. Executives’ engagement with climate science and perceived need for business adaptation to climate change. Climatic Change 131, 321–333 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1387-1

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Climate Change Impact
  • Adaptation Action
  • Great Engagement
  • Industry Competitiveness