As we look at the effect that irregular weather events are clearly having on UK businesses – from the extremes of the Beast from the East to the hot summer last year, and whatever 2019 will bring, it’s plain to see that climate change is affecting our productivity and profitability.
In fact, the Centre for Economics and Business Research said last year that the Beast from the East would negatively affect the UK’s general output by 20%,compared to normal.
What is climate
Climate change is defined in the dictionary as ‘a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels’.
Our planet’s climate has constantly been changing over
geological time. The global average temperature today is about 15C. But geological
evidence suggests it has been much lower and much higher in the past – think
We are currently in a period of warming, but that warming is
happening more quickly than it is thought to have in previous times. It would
seem that the changes that would perhaps happen naturally are being overtaken
by a warming caused by human pollution – mainly carbon dioxide. A warming that
has serious implications for the stability of the earth’s climate.
Exactly what climate change means for our planet is uncertain. It is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, though. Scientists are forecasting increasing amounts of rainfall and flooding from storms and rising sea levels are all predicted. Drought in inland areas during hot summers is also likely to increase.
What is the world
doing about climate change?
Back in December 2018, the United Nations met in Poland, for COP24, to create the Paris Rulebook – the set of rules that will help put the Paris Agreement and the actions needed to intensify work to counter climate change. The road to the Paris Agreement has been a long process, though, (it was first agreed at COP21 in December 2015). And, while the UN delegates have been busy negotiating, many businesses have started their journey to being more environmentally conscious already.
This is a fact backed up by the open letter, signed by fifty
businesses from the World Economic Forum and presented to the delegates of
COP24. The letter called for stronger action at that meeting.
It’s clear from this that organisations around the globe are
keen to make a difference. So what else are companies doing to help counter
climate change and how could your business do the same, and benefit from it
When it comes to businesses making changes for good, carbon emissions is a great place to start. Thirty of those fifty WEF businesses we’ve mentioned above are already leading the way in this respect, having succeeded in reducing their emissions by nine per cent between 2015 and 2016. Easier said than done, perhaps, but there are organisations, and certifications, that can help you along the way.
ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems. Over 14,000 organisations are certified with the standard in the UK and over 250,000 globally. Working toward the standard requires a lot of work – from evaluating your environmental impact at every level and for every single process, through to creating and maintaining your environmental management system. It requires top down commitment and the buy in of every person within a business.
With it, though, businesses are able to benefit from the positive PR associated with great Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice, as well as added credibility with procurement teams, particularly when bidding for work in the public sector. And, while many eco-friendly swaps can require an initial investment, they often save businesses money in the longer term.
Of course, achieving an international standard also costs,
and not every business wishing to reduce its carbon footprint needs to invest
in this way. There are many organisations that are set up to help, such as
We are becoming more and more conscious of the waste we create and, as businesses, we create a great deal. As much of this as possible should be recycled or reused. Replacing bins at each work station with recycling points in various central points will encourage recycling throughout your business. Equally, buying recycled or sustainably sourced products – for instance paper – or reusing envelopes and the like, can make a big difference.
down the carbon footprint
Encouraging greener journeys can also work well to driving down your business’ carbon footprint. Car sharing and bike to work schemes can also raise morale in a business – helping people to feel better about themselves and even more healthy. Why not encourage your suppliers to do the same?
3. Changing behaviours
Did you know that turning off the lights in a typical office overnight can save enough energy to make 1,000 cups of tea? If you are anything like us, those cups of tea get drunk very quickly, but it’s plain to see there’s a big saving to be made. Reminding people to turn off appliances and lights and to shut windows and doors can seem over-zealous, but it can help change to happen.
AC and insulation
Regularly maintaining your heating and air conditioning can make it much more efficient, as can making sure there is good insulation at your property. Be sure to block drafts and keep radiators uncovered during colder months, too.
Even if all the businesses in the world started their journey towards reducing carbon emissions today, the threat of weather events – be they cold, wet, hot or dry - will be ever present. Ensuring you are prepared for these events through business continuity planning and by having adequate insurance in place, can mean the difference between one day’s loss of productivity, a month's or even more.
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