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Global Business Leaders Anticipate Investment Cuts and Want Renewables-First Approach to Climate in Response to Europe’s Energy Crisis, Economic Headwinds, FleishmanHillard Study Finds

January 10, 2023

Executives Express Deep Concern About Inflation and Geopolitical Tensions,
Expect Poverty to Rise

BRUSSELS/ST. LOUIS, JANUARY 10, 2022 – As the world faces stiff economic headwinds and Europe grapples with a deepening energy crisis with global impacts, a recent survey conducted by FleishmanHillard found that business leaders around the world expect investment reductions in key areas while renewing desires for a balanced approach to climate and energy. They expect fossil fuels to be given a prolonged role given supply shortages in Europe and the UK.

The energy crisis and inflation are affecting consumers’ cost of living and industries globally, creating both challenges and opportunities for business. FleishmanHillard’s TRUE Global Intelligence wanted to learn more and surveyed nearly 900 business leaders in nine countries: China, France, Germany, India, Italy, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States to understand their perspective related to the European energy crisis and expectations for the coming year. 

Sixty-one percent of the executives said they were “very concerned” about inflation, followed by tensions between the West and Russia (53%) and the European energy crisis (51%). Concern about climate change and extreme weather was fourth at 42%, which was ahead of the frosty China-U.S. relationship (33%).

Some 61% of those surveyed also said inflation was having a large or very large impact on their business. Eight in 10 (79%) said they expected poverty to grow as a result of Europe’s energy crisis and global increase in energy costs due to supply constraints, while nearly the same level expects the crisis to accelerate the growth of renewable energy production (76%).

Nearly six in 10 executives (59%) worldwide said the best way to respond to Europe’s energy crisis is to increase investments in renewable energy. Seventy-two percent (72%) of respondents said it was likely or very or somewhat likely that policymakers would ease efforts to transition away from fossil fuels.  

“Despite the challenging economic and energy supply challenges today, business leaders generally agree that governments and industry should remain steadfast on climate and decarbonization efforts,” Maximo Miccinilli, head of Energy and Climate for FleishmanHillard in Europe, said. “But they also expect policymakers to ease the energy transition while their companies take steps to reduce investments and costs, in part due to inflation.”

The research also found:

  • U.S. executives were the most likely to say the priority should be increasing energy supplies, at 37%, followed by Germany respondents at 34% and China and UK respondents at 32%.
  • South Korea and Spain executives were the most likely to say climate action should be prioritized, at 33% and 24%, respectively.
  • Chinese executives were highest in expecting to reduce their investments in climate and sustainability projects, at 33%. Germany was second at 29%.

European executives who face the greatest challenge from the energy crisis said it would force their companies to reduce investments. They noted areas most likely to be cut include recruiting new employees (42%), mergers and acquisitions (35%), and employee benefits and perks (31%).

Business leaders in natural gas-dependent states, including Italy, Spain and France, were the most likely to say the energy crisis would have a large or very large impact on their business, reflecting where the crisis is hitting the hardest. At 35%, France was the highest among individual countries expecting to cut investments; UK business leaders were second at 25%.

A majority of executives globally (72%), including nuclear-averse Germany (76%), believe consumers will become more accepting of nuclear power due to the energy crisis.

FleishmanHillard’s Public Affairs specialists help clients around the world monitor and manage policy and regulatory risk and identify and leverage opportunities in response to changing issues. In partnership with clients, we devise strategies to enable them to advocate effectively, engage policymakers and stakeholders, and demonstrate leadership. In times of accelerated major change and government action, FleishmanHillard helps its clients understand the landscape and communicate to achieve their business and public affairs goals.


TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey of 897 senior leaders of global companies responsible for making strategic decisions in the following markets: China (n= 100), France (n= 100), Germany (n= 99), India (n=98), Italy (n= 100), South Korea (n= 100), Spain (n= 100), UK (n= 100) and U.S. (n=100). The margin of error is +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.

About FleishmanHillard 

FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named 2021 PRovoke Global Agency of the Year, 2021 ICCO Network of the Year, 2021 Campaign Global PR Agency of the Year, 2022 PRWeek U.S. Agency of the Year and Outstanding Extra-Large Agency of the Year; 2021 PRovoke APAC Consultancy of the Year; 2021 PRWeek UK Large Consultancy of the Year; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality 2018-2021; and to Seramount’s (formerly Working Mother Media) “Top Companies for Executive Women” list 2010-2021. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group and has nearly 80 offices in more than 30 countries, plus affiliates in 45 countries. 

About Omnicom Public Relations Group  

Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, language strategy, global health strategy and change management. As the largest group of communications professionals in the world, our employees provide expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the Communications Consultancy Network, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC).   

About Omnicom Group Inc. 

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations, and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 70 countries. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news.