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54% of Global CEOs are Committed to Decarbonizing Their Business to Reach Net Zero: EY Survey

54% of Global CEOs are Committed to Decarbonizing Their Business to Reach Net Zero: EY Survey

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Listen to this story:
  • CEOs prioritize AI transformation for productivity now but aim for net zero and new revenue streams in the longer term.
  • Joint efforts by businesses, investors and policymakers can spur a speedy shift to a sustainable, net-zero future.
  • CEOs and investors see an M&A uplift in 2024, with increased acquisitions and divestitures.

There is a clear sense that global CEOs in 2024 are more confident about controlling what they can and managing what they can’t. Resilience has fueled a more positive outlook about their own growth and profitability, and they are more comfortable navigating external challenges outside their own authority.

Right now, CEOs are focused on technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI) transformation, as a means to boost productivity and growth. But when they look into the not-too-distant future, their focus shifts to achieving net zero by decarbonizing their business and creating new revenue streams.

Juggling profit with broader ambitions reflects the CEOs’ need to both create financial value for shareholders and to deliver on societal demands in accelerating the sustainability journey.

Over half of CEOs globally (54%) see sustainability issues as a higher priority than they did 12 months ago. Comparably, only 28% of institutional investors have reported the same. But this misalignment, which heightens the priority of short-term financial returns at the expense of achieving sustainability targets more swiftly, may be shortsighted.

Achieving sustainability targets can be challenging – particularly in a difficult, cost-focused market. Our report shows that greater collaboration between corporates, investors and policymakers could unleash a new wave of bottom-up initiatives that could help accelerate the road to net zero and unlock a more sustainable future.

Elsewhere, CEOs and institutional investors have a positive outlook for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in 2024, albeit compared to a subdued 2023 for deals. More CEOs are looking to make acquisitions, and even more are planning to divest assets. The majority of institutional investors (61%) anticipate a stable deal environment, with a third (34%) expecting an acceleration of deals.

Related Article: EY, Denkstatt Partner to become one of the largest consulting firms in the field of ESG and sustainability in Bulgaria

The quarterly EY CEO Outlook Pulse survey of 1,200 executives globally is the backbone of our latest edition in the CEO Imperative series. It provides insights on boardroom agenda items such as capital allocation, investment and business transformation strategies within a rapidly evolving global economic landscape. This edition also features the additional views of 300 institutional investors, reflecting their unique outside-in understanding and insights across the sectors and geographies in which they invest.

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