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Only a little over half of Australian businesses identified in a report have been acknowledging the growing need to consider climate change as a serious risk in their strategies, as damning research suggests too few companies are taking it seriously.

72 of the top enterprises in the country were assessed, with only 57% of those being analyzed having been considered to have tailored their future plans around the need to at least think about how climate change could be a risk. 

With 2030 having been set as the looming deadline late last year by an IPCC report shared worldwide, there has been more of a global initiative to try and get businesses to do something about it. Australia, like most other world nations, signed up to the Paris agreement back in 2015 and has legal targets it needs to meet on carbon emissions.

However, they will only get so far if 43% of the leading businesses across the nation are able to mitigate imminent risks, while 32% of those surveyed have developed detailed risks and opportunities presented by climate change.

The report itself has been prepared by Market Forces, an environmental campaign group who based their data on publically available information, targeting companies working in sectors thought to be posing the most risk to climate change.

Australia has torn itself apart politically over how it plans to deal with such issues, as the Liberals tend toward free market initiatives, while Labor seem more likely to chase large-scale policy changes, including on clean energy.

The lack of consensus in the country in terms of how fossil fuels should be phased out, and how affordable renewable energy can be provided, has already claimed the scalps of several politicians in the last few years, and we may well have not seen the last of it.

With elections happening later this year, battle lines are already being drawn on the issue, but just how pressing a topic climate change seems to be among ordinary Australians may well help to decide which party will be in power come the second half of the year.

This is the second report from Market Forces, as they follow up on their inaugural ‘Investing in the Dark’ release in March 2018. Their most immediate concern seems to be that they feel little progress has been made in the 12 months or so since.

Their analyst Will van de Pol criticized the regulators and investors involved for increasing the rhetoric around the subject without doing much to aid development in terms of tangible metrics.

The news echoes a similar study by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) back last fall, where only 17% out of a sample of 60 companies in the ASX 300 had identified climate change to be a serious business risk.

ASIC railed against what they described in many cases as ‘climate change disclosures to be far too general, and of limited use to investors.’ There appears to be a general trend that investors say they are willing to put money into cleaner energy and greener finance, but are unwilling to do so unless they feel what they are backing has any substance to it.

A series of guidelines made available worldwide have sought to break this deadlock, with rationale for investors to know their climate risks, and to enable companies to understand what they should be disclosing.