Climate change and what does it mean for your business!
by Adrian Braun
We all have heard about climate change! More than a decade ago, the notion of climate change has left academia and the specific niches in political discussions. It has entered the daily discourse of numerous mass media channels and thus reached a wide audience. The topic is still controversial and while many actors discuss whether a warming climate is man-made or a natural phenomenon that happens every few thousand years, it is essential to simply accept that climate change is real and that action is required, either to mitigate, to adapt or both.
Let´s watch the issue from a business perspective. If you are facing in your business a problem (aka a challenge) you have to do something, you have to act! Standstill and waiting is not going to help because problems do not vanish just like this. The reality is, a problem ignored will just turn bigger and bigger and solving it becomes more complicated (and more cost-intensive) until it is not solvable anymore. With climate change, it is just like this and it is of relevance for almost every company and organisation. In tourism, it is linked to transportation, in production it is linked to carbon dioxide emissions, in extractive industries to waste & water management to name a few climate related business activities.
Pinpointing at others responsibility or denying human responsibility at all, will not help to solve a problem. This is a defensive strategy and as you know from business activities, such as, clients & customer communication, cost calculations, productivity assessments and business planning, proactive activities are required by creating Unique Selling Propositions (USP´s) and other assets that distinguish you from your competitor. Denying and waiting lead to conflicts with stakeholder groups, including the loss of regular customers and clients.
From this, two simple questions may come up to your mind. Is climate change counter-action needed? Yes! Is climate change action difficult and expensive? Not necessarily, in the beginning certainly No! You can combine your climate strategy with a sustainability strategy. Moreover, you can integrate your sustainability and climate change activities into your marketing strategy. In this respect, you will generate synergies and create double- or triple-benefits with a single strategy and implementation process. This being said, you can create competitive edge, prevent conflicts with stakeholders and build relations with investors, shareholders and other actors with relevance to your business.
So what can you do to tackle climate change? You can assess in the beginning your own carbon footprints (emissions of greenhouse gases) and your consumptions of materials and supplies that have negative but perhaps also positive impacts on the climate. Then you can think, for instance with external help of an expert consultant, what you can do to improve the climate performance of your business. This thinking can go possibly further by creating solutions of how the region or even the country of your operations can improve the overall climate performance, based on your initiative. You can provide sustainability trainings for your workforce and management and you can discuss the matter with your entire value and supply chain. Investments into smart technological solutions, for instance in factories, might allow overall cost-reductions by using fuels, water and energy more efficient.
Alternatively, you can also start activities or campaigns, which are not related to your own responsibility when it comes down to climate effects, but you can strive the issue further by supporting climate projects, carbon compensation schemes and communicate the issue with your networks proactively to create awareness in the global business community. This allows you to engage as sustainability leader in your region and your sector and it is fairly to gain image benefits and improved customer relations from these kind of activities.
Climate change is the global master challenge of the 21st century and the negative scenarios threaten the global economy largely as defensive behavior will be much more expensive in the future than proactive behavior today. The businesses that acts with honest and authenticity already today by implementing climate change and sustainability strategies into all their operations are the business leaders of tomorrow.