Businesses should act now to benefit from climate change

Businesses that choose to adapt to the changing climate now could save money and benefit from new economic opportunities, a report from the Government watchdog on climate change will say today.

The Adaption Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will release a report today on how well the UK is prepared for climate change. The report concludes that businesses must start preparing now, since the effects of climate change can already be felt in the UK.

One in three UK companies have already been “significantly affected” by extreme weather such as flooding or drought in the past three years, but fewer than one in four have taken action to protect themselves.

“Businesses need to think about how they can protect themselves and avoid the cost of damages later,” said Dr. Sebastian Catovsky, head of Adaptation for CCC.

“Adapting means that costs and damages later will be lower. By taking action today, businesses can save money today on issues like water efficiency. Water shortages will get worse so they can be preparing for the future.”

Industries such as tourism and agriculture can seek to benefit from what researchers expect to be longer summers. Businesses that service tourists may see their busy season extend, as the weather stays hot longer. In agriculture, lengthened growing seasons will make exotic crops like apricots, walnuts, champagne and wine possible to grow.

Businesses that invest in developing the products and services that people will need as the climate changes, stand to benefit in the long run as well. This includes the products and services needed in the retrofit of old buildings and in improving the resilience of supply chains.

While small and medium-sized businesses may not have the capital to make major adaptations now, Defra said it’s important they pay attention to what’s going on. Simple, low regret measures such as defending against hostile weather and floods can help protect small business from damage costs later. Offering employees the option of working from home and looking into insurance are also options for small businesses. He said that businesses that are prepared for climate change will be the ones who benefit from it.

The Adaption Sub-Committee stressed in its assessment that adaptation is not an alternative to decreasing carbon emissions, but simply a necessary counterpart to continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent in 2050. The Committee says adaptation is about adjusting the way people and businesses do things so that they’re prepared for the future.

The report urges action in five primary areas: land use planning, infrastructure, buildings, natural resources, and emergency planning.

With rising temperatures and increased flooding, businesses need to chose properties strategically, ensuring they don’t build in flood zones or misuse green space. The Government and companies need to build power stations, road, railways, and flood barriers with the climate changes in mind, ensuring that the infrastructure they’re building is resilient. When building and renovating homes, contractors need to ensure that the buildings are able to cope with rising temperatures, floods and droughts. The report says its important to manage natural resources sustainably by using water more efficiently and making sure species can adapt and move as the climate changes. The report urges emergency services to continue working on finding better ways to respond to natural disasters that will likely become more common in the coming decades.

Business group, the CBI, welcomed today’s report and the Government’s response to it, but said the words had to translate into action. “This means getting the information on climate risk out into the hands of those that need to make their businesses resilient. Most of this data is already in the public domain, but needs to be made available in an easy-to-use format,” said Dr Neil Bentley, CBI director for Business Environment.

This week, the CBI launched its report ‘Whatever The Weather: Managing The Risks From A Changing Climate’, which called for the Government to make its environmental data more easily available to help businesses prepare for the risks of climate change. It also called for the creation of a new public information bank showing the risk to critical infrastructure.

 Source: Greenwise