Close to half of all senior executives worldwide understand that the negative effects of climate change need to be tackled.

The figure according to a poll from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is 46 per cent of the 2,324 senior executive respondents.

An additional 33% conceded that climate change requires changes to lifestyle and business practices.

The EIU says its findings challenged the notion that businesses are complacent about climate change.

The result of the survey by the EIU, a group within The Economist media group which provides forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, showed that executives in developing nations are more insistent on the need for action.

Analysts say this is because developing nations generally will be more affected by climate change.

The report describes the differing opinions of executives in rich and poor regions as “striking”.

The researchers say 67 per cent of African executives believe that the effects of global atmospheric shifts require “urgent and immediate”

This sentiment is shared by just 39 per cent in North America.

Over half the executives from Asia and the Middle East also called for real action to be taken, but the number stood at just 43 per cent in Europe,

The EUI suggests this shows both scepticism, complacency, and a reliance on climate altering business practices throughout much of the developing world.

“Companies will almost certainly be affected by climate change in one way or another. The risks involved include the breakdown of infrastructure networks, food systems and water ecosystems, for example,” the survey report added.

Large-scale reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say that the bosses of companies in poorer nations have it right.

The IPCC warns that no nation would be left untouched by climate change, and that climate change impacts have nearly doubled since 2007.

So far around seventy large global companies have agreed to the measures in the Trillion Tonne Communiqué, which aims to stop a trillion tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

The progressive commercial forces including Mars, Adidas and Unilever, all believe that governments should be setting targets to achieve zero net emissions before 2100 while also re-thinking their energy networks.

“Our current collective response to climate change is inadequate, and this threatens businesses, jobs and the economy”, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever says.

“The cost of inaction is now greater than the cost of action.”