Companies must weigh in climate risks in their future strategies.The UN supported IPCC global research panel, recently released their assessment of climate change research. As was stated in the previous report from 2007, there is no doubt that human activities cause the increase in greenhouse gas levels in the earth’s atmosphere. The new report considered additional model development and research progress in this field. The report also identifies with greater certainty the likely consequences of climate change. These consequences, if they actually come about, are both serious and frightening.
The report calls for greater reflection, and should hopefully lead to more action. One significant concern is that currently there is only one world-wide climate agreement in effect – Kyoto 2. But this covers less than 15% percent of all global climate emissions. Hopes are riding on the global negotiating process and that a possible new agreement can be reached in Paris 2015 to enter into effect in 2020. But the outcome of this process is highly uncertain, with good reason for pessimism.
To meet the climate challenges facing the world, efforts must address all issues on several fronts. From the global level, to the individual choices people make. The political framework is essential, but perhaps more central is continued technical development and greater dissemination of new technology to ensure change can actually be implemented, and achieved.
The Swedish entrepreneurial sector takes these climate issues very seriously. Addressing these problems has been incorporated into the management systems of many companies and their long-term strategies. This applies to the obvious, such as how to reduce direct short and long-term emissions, and indirectly how the products and services they offer can contribute to solving the climate challenge through their customers. These companies also need to identify their own research and development requirements to continue with these efforts. There are many Swedish companies at the leading edge in these efforts, but efforts must continue and be developed further, all in conjunction with policy and research.
The business sector must begin to discuss adapting to future climate conditions. In this, many have still not considered many of these issues in public debate. Perhaps this is due to fear of being seen as having surrendered to the idea that climate change cannot be stopped. But, it is imperative that discussion includes both climate change and how to adapt to its effects. To businesses, these effects can already be discerned in disruptions to supply chains, increased insurance fees, or more directly as extreme weather events impacting their own facilities. These ‘climate risks’, that companies can meet over time, must simply be included in their future strategies.
Reports from the global climate panel next year will concentrate on how emissions can be reduced and how to adapt to coming changes. These reports will provide invaluable information for all continued efforts to stem the tide of climate change—for which we all have a clear responsibility.
Maria Sunér Fleming