The climate is changing, and will continue to change, as a result of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Regardless of how quickly we reduce our emissions, a certain amount of change is now inevitable, and there will be implications for society and the businesses that serve it. Clearly, the faster we can cut emissions the lower the impact will be, but we’re now in an era of balancing action to mitigate our emissions with our plans to adapt to changes that are around the corner.
An important question that many of our clients are asking themselves is how can I prepare for a future that will change in ways that we cannot fully predict?
At Carbon Clear, we think that the right approach to answering this question lies in a thorough assessment of the risks and opportunities that may result from a changing climate. In fact, we’d go a little further and say that intelligent sustainability programmes must be targeted to mitigate an articulated business risk, or to capture a potential opportunity. If elements of your programme are not grounded in this way, then why are you doing them?
The previous paragraph may sound a bit challenging, and it’s meant to be. For too many companies, the climate change risk process starts a few weeks before the CDP deadline and ends once the submit button is pressed on the questionnaire. These identified risks and opportunities are not considered further until the next year’s CDP questionnaire is launched.
What does this tell us?
There could be a range of reasons for this behaviour. Perhaps it’s an indication that the risks and opportunities we’ve identified are not material to our businesses. Perhaps we feel they’re material, but we haven’t engaged our senior leaders well enough to convince them about it. Perhaps we lack the skills to understand the financial impacts in a way that places the challenge at the right level on the corporate agenda. Whatever the reason, I hope you agree with me that a sustainability programme that doesn’t anchor its roots in a business driver is unlikely to result in the organisational change that is necessary to future proof your company.
I’d like to leave you with this challenge; dust off your risks and opportunity register and try to map each of your sustainability initiatives to at least one item in the register. If you find some orphaned programmes, it’s time to consider whether you’ve missed a risk or an opportunity from your list, or whether your programme is really adding business value. If you find some risks or opportunities that are not being addressed, then it’s time to consider whether they’re material, and if so, it’s time to get started on designing your new initiatives!
Download our risks and opportunities fact sheet for some tips.