Why climate change adaptation and mitigation matter

Published 1st June 2016 by Lucy Haines

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What does a national shortage of biscuits have to do with climate change?

North-West Britain was impacted by significant floods at the end of December 2015 that caused damage and devastation to many homes, businesses and communities. One of the facilities affected by the floods manufactures biscuits. The factory was put out of action due to electrical damage caused by the flood, resulting in a biscuit shortage at the beginning of 2016.


Still don’t see the link? Well, scientists have been saying for many years that a changing climate will increase average temperatures, effect severe weather events and precipitation patterns increasing the risk of flooding and heat stress in many parts of the UK.

If UK PLC is not prepared, it is not just biscuits which will be affected. ‘Business as usual’ across the country will certainly be impacted.

In the USA, Barak Obama’s senior advisor on science and technology, Professor John Holdren, summarises our options succinctly, “We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation or suffering”.

Up until now, the focus for most businesses has been around mitigation of climate change (reducing emissions and the impact a business has on the environment) but has neglected the importance of adaptation (understanding and reducing the impact that the environment has on a business).

And nobody wants suffering!

In order to help our clients understand, address and adapt to climate change we have developed the Operational Climate Adaptation Programme (OCAP). The programme is an operational assessment of past, current and future events related to climate change, their potential impact on a business and ways to manage them.

The programme, which brings together employees from different functions across the business including risk, finance and facilities (amongst others), is run as an interactive workshop. We provide the science and expertise in terms of climate risks and attendees help translate this in to ‘real world’ scenarios that are relevant to the organisation.

By undertaking an OCAP assessment, organisations can better understand the predicted impacts from climate change which could affect site operational performance, productivity and employees. Further, by undertaking multiple operational assessments business can identify key enterprise level risks and incorporate these in to the overall risk management strategy.

We are currently running a series of workshops with a national waste management company to assess the physical risks to each of their key processing plant sites. The results of the workshops are to be fed in to the company risk register and ultimately will be incorporated in future business strategy and planning. 

 

Find out more about OCAP here, or call us on 020 3589 9444.

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