Climate change and energy are key areas for the new Parliament: the Queen’s speech flagged up the importance of collaborating with other nations to overcome global climate change and the release of a new Energy Bill to optimise energy security in the UK. So, how is climate change affecting UK businesses?
The notes to the Queen’s speech expanded on this with reference to “a global deal” being the most cost effective, competitive and proportionate way to achieve the level of action required. The “deal” was clearly a reference to the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), due to take place at the end of this year, and which has the objective of achieving a universal and legally binding agreement on global climate change. This applies to all UK businesses large and small.
The government has also mooted that a global deal is strongly in the best interests of UK business because it will create new opportunities for low carbon industries. It will also proactively address direct environmental threats (like floods and water shortages from heatwaves) and indirect threats (such as rising costs and economic instability).
So before waiting for the outcome of the COP21 global climate summit in Paris, now is a great time to review your organisation across your R&D, finance, innovation and sustainability functions.
London School Of Economics Climate Change Report
A recent report from the London School of Economics has stressed how important it is for businesses to actively consider climate change as part of their national and global business strategy.
The 2015 Global Climate Legislation Study evaluated the global legislative frameworks of 98 countries plus the European Union; representing 93% of the world’s total global greenhouse gas emissions and 46% of the top 50 polluting nations. Key points include:
- The number of climate laws and policies has almost doubled since 2009 (804 at the end of 2014)
- 75% of the reported global emissions are now covered by national targets
- 47 countries (including 28 EU member states) have established carbon pricing (either through taxation or a cap-and-trade system)
- 75 countries and the EU have implemented legislation to curtail greenhouse gas emissions
- Only 37 countries have a detailed national climate change risk assessment
Whilst businesses are awakening to the importance of climate change as part of their own organisational, financial and operational frameworks, it is clear that there is still a long way to go. Whilst the UK fared very well, the report identified that 51 countries admitted that their current plans do not go beyond national reporting requirements and 17 countries do not have any climate framework legislation at all.
The report encourages businesses to proactively take control of their global strategy and analyse the legislative frameworks for each country where they operate. It may be that your business will have to redraft its business model to adapt to the potential effect of climate change in those countries. The study has created a global climate legislation database tool for businesses to refer to and download. If you are small business it equally applies to you: everyone needs to look at low carbon solutions as climate change will drive up energy costs, create fuel poverty and disrupt business continuity.
It is an optimum time to take a joined-up approach and really think about climate change as part of your overall business strategy and a way to boost your productivity, competitiveness and growth.
Article written by Rachel Furniss.
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