Similar numbers of the European CxOs surveyed on behalf of IT and services firm LogcaCMG, saw compliance to a low carbon economy as a financial burden, although half believed it would also present a business opportunity. On average, firms felt they would need to spend 5.7% of their annual revenue on tackling the issue.

Given this high level of investment, the respondents called for the EU and national governments to come up with a simple, common mechanism to measure carbon emissions. Each country currently has a different set of regulations, applicable to different industries, which are using a range of technologies and measurement techniques.

Introducing a harmonized and mandatory environmental rating system would negate this and also enable companies that truly have green strategies to brand their greenness more effectively and get better capital value estimates from the financial markets, said Nick Caplan, chief marketing officer at LogicaCMG.

The research was based on interviews with 200 CIOs, CFOs and CEOs at 200 enterprises in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden by research firm Coleman Parkes.