How should climate change business responses across the board vary as the planet continues to heat up? A recent study by scientists in the National Academy of Sciences found that business leaders were surprisingly slow to adjust their strategies to climate change. It turns out that many companies, even those that claim to be committed to “sustainable development,” are doing nothing to prepare for climate change and its devastating effects on business. This is even though climate change is one of the most important, and costliest, threats facing our planet.
It’s no surprise, then, that climate change business responses have been slower to respond than government climate change policies. As Kevin Trudeau, a research scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, put it, “The federal governments have been much more aggressive in climate change policy, but the business industry is lagging.” Why has there been this gap? The answer lies in the fact that business leaders have not been told the climate change facts that threaten to turn every company into a climate change denial machine.
In fact, according to Trudeau, most climate change response plans “rely on extremely optimistic assumptions about future climate change scenarios.” These climate change scenarios often involve extreme weather events that are too incomprehensible for most companies to plan for or prepare for. And yet these same climate change response plans depend on far more conservative assumptions about the effects of climate change on business cycles.
What do these climate change business responses mean for you?
When a climate change scenario makes sense for your business, climate change business responses should be built around it. How can climate change make sense for your business? It means that climate change is likely to cause extreme weather events that threaten your company’s ability to function – and that these events could occur at any time.
So what should your climate change response be?
According to Trudeau, your climate change response must focus on two things: “a focus on future risks and a focus on present issues.” Unfortunately, present issues such as the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, flooding in Thailand and other weather-related emergencies are still issues for your company right now. However, by assessing the risk of climate change and incorporating it into your climate change response, you’ll at least be prepared to address the crisis if it happens.
The key, then, is for you to determine climate change’s likelihood of happening, and then build your climate change response around this number. As Trudeau says, “the best way to do that is to integrate your climate change response with your overall business strategies.” How does she accomplish this? She points out that “many climate change assessment reports” provide a case study of the strategies that a company has implemented to address climate change and “refer to those strategies when formulating their climate change response.” This approach makes a climate change business assessment not just useful but powerful.
Of course, climate change assessments don’t stop at addressing the likelihood of climate change. They also need to take a look at how climate change is already impacting your business. In doing so, you’ll be able to determine what, if anything, your climate change response should include. For example, is your company surveying the coastal areas of its operations to ensure that it can continue to provide services in the face of rising sea levels? If not, then you may want to consider ways of increasing its sustainability or look at new technologies that can mitigate climate change.
It’s important, then, for your climate change response to go beyond simply stating the problem and the solution. By identifying the probability of climate change and incorporating it with your overall strategies, you’ll make sure that you are prepared to deal with climate change should it strike your business in the future. You’ll increase efficiency, create better consumer perceptions, help the environment, and even increase profits. While climate change might be scary, business is more important than ever. Don’t leave climate change to the front burner. Get started now!