Code Red

A major United Nations (UN) climate report published in August has provided a dire warning on the worsening climate crisis due to undeniable evidence of human impact on our planet.  The UN Secretary General António Guterres has stated that we are in a “Code Red “for humanity.

So what does this mean exactly, to you, me and our businesses? The warning comes after very significant world events such as floods in Germany that killed 200 people, atypical winter storms in Texas, wildfires raging across the world.    

This sixth Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change (IPCC) report states that average Global temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.50c.  1.50c does not sound much of a big deal?  We would barely even notice so small a temperature shift sitting in the garden. To nature, however, such a seemingly small changes is likely to have significant adverse effects and be felt everywhere such as Insects (especially bees), sea life, vertebrates (us) and melting ice caps, to start with.

Confusion of Terms

To clarify at least one repeating point, the terms “global warming” and “climate change” are often confused, one is often used in reference to the other.

The term “Global warming” (GW) refers to the long-term warming of the planet, something that has been measurable pretty much since the industrial revolution. GW relates to “average” temperatures, an increase that is measured against the baseline average of the mid- late nineteenth century, starting when the industrial revolution went into overdrive. It is worth mentioning that GW is not a uniform phenomenon, some areas are heating up at a faster rate than others (i.e. the Poles).

The term “Climate change” (CC) is the collective for a number of issues including GW, it factors in other associated issues such as rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, increasing ice melt rates at the poles, changing weather patterns, hotter summers, and colder winters and effects on flora and fauna.

What does this mean for your business?

According to the Business Continuity Institute (BCI), weather related events will be the 5th highest business risk in 2021.  So that said, as a local business, whatever your size or sector you may wonder how this will affect you bottom line. According to Deloittes a multinational professional services company there are at least five adverse impacts on a business:-

  1. Operational Impact – the impacts felt by extreme weather disruptions such as flooding of premises & facilities or availability of workforce.
  2. Scarcity/cost of resources – Access to basic resources such as food, water, and energy.
  3. Regulatory/Political uncertainty – The IPCC report mentioned above is likely to heighten this as governments look to introduce further measures.
  4. Insurance – Increased insurance costs to cover the ever more likely event of extreme weather.
  5. Reputational damage – As climate change becomes ever-present in daily lives, how an organization reacts and the effort they make on their sustainability could impact future success.

A way ahead

So, do we panic?  No, we don’t, but we do need to take notice and act now.  If we change the way we go about our business we can arrest the change, but not reverse it. Our actions need to be en-masse and collaborative including the private sector, the public sectors and the general public. No single country, region, company or individual will arrest climate change, but together we can make an impact.

Our response to combatting it has already started, spearheaded by the slow global shift towards sustainability, perhaps our best weapon.

The UN does not use terms like “Code Red” casually, they are deadly serious. The question we should maybe ask ourselves is simply what sort of world do we want to leave for successive generations? . One of opportunity or one of coping with our over consumption?

ROSE Sustainability Ltd aims to promote the shift of Caithness and North Sutherland’s economy to one where sustainability is prioritised.

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