Is Your Business Ready for Climate Change?
Let's talk about the weather
The average British person will spend four and a half months of their life talking about the weather, a study shows. We tend to revert to the weather when we are trying to engage in small talk. But the topic is far more serious and not small talk at all!
It's true that climate change is becoming a more widely discussed topic in recent years, yet its practical implications on businesses and our own lives still remain ambiguous in our minds. They feel like a distant future, despite them already impacting the here and now.
There are different movements people join in support of saving the planet: "plastic-free oceans, "say no to plastic straws", veganism, "reduce carbon footprint". Many businesses build their CSRs around similar goals, with the intention to help the environment, prevent deforestation, limit pollution, etc. While it is necessary to take action to slow down climate change, I am not convinced we are spending enough time planning for a future which will be impacted by it, of course the severity of it depends on our current efforts.
Are we ready to face the challenge?
When we analyse the impact of climate change we are already experiencing, we see how unprepared we are to cope with extreme weather, for example. We face the consequences all the time: travel disruptions, hurricanes wiping out entire towns, floods, extreme heat and drought. These in turn lead to shifts in natural resources availability and when combined with political instability or security risk, are also linked to mass migration and even wars. It is a lot more than just feeling too hot on the tube on your way to work.
We are developing the products of the future but not necessarily taking into account the environment of the future. Most of the planning is done on "business as usual" basis and risk assessment is based on historical information about disasters. This is, however, insufficient as it doesn't take into account the pace of change and other driving forces, which might not be so obvious and may have not occurred in the past.
Planning for a different future
Thinking about the industries that will be impacted by climate change, there are a few that immediately come to mind: agriculture, food production, shipping, insurance, transportation. Technology companies need to plan for the future locations of their data centers to ensure optimal cooling and less energy used, autonomous vehicle manufacturers should think about ensuring their algorithms include scenarios for unpredictable weather, infrastructure and city planning should definitely consider rising temperatures, as well as rising sea levels.
The Paris agreement's long-term goal is to keep the global temperature levels to a maximum of +2 °C per year and reduce them to 1.5 °C, but even in this world, changes will occur and a lot of the businesses will have to undergo substantial transformation to survive.
How does your business plan for climate change?
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