No more business as usual: why businesses need to adapt to climate change

1 Sep 2019
3 min read

Sustainable business is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s an essential component of success. Businesses stand to face huge losses if they’re not prepared for climate change. But they also have the power to change for good – by making changes that benefit their reputation, efficiency, productivity and bottom line.

So, while a net zero carbon future is a huge goal, the solutions are already here for the taking. Rather than being a cost, going green represents a huge opportunity.

We know we need to act on climate change

We have just 11 years for governments, businesses and communities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a massive 45%

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report warning that global warming levels must be kept under 1.5C. To do this, the Climate Change Committee has recommended that the UK produces net zero carbon emissions by 2050. If we don’t act now, we face even more droughts, heatwaves and floods. Sea levels in London could rise as much as 1.15m this century as ice melts faster and oceans expand in the heat.

We have just 11 years for governments, businesses and communities to ramp up climate action drastically and cut greenhouse gas emissions by a massive 45%. But in 2018, global carbon emissions increased by 2.7%. Here in the UK, greenhouse gas emission reductions stalled in many sectors. From 2017 to 2018 the UK business sector made no progress at all in reducing emissions! 

Business benefits of improved efficiency

Is your house in order? The deadline for ESOS 2 is 5 Dec 2019

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme – a mandatory energy assessment for businesses with over 250 employees or an annual turnover of over £44m – helps large businesses identify energy saving measures. 

For ESOS 1, some companies paid consultants to write reports that sat on shelves gathering dust. Many of the recommendations would pay for themselves in less than three years.  Worse still, companies including eBay, Gumtree and STA Travel have been fined for failing to comply with the legislation.

Legislative pressures are only going to increase due to the severity of global warming. The UK government wants to at least halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030. Those that act early have a lot to gain.

A win-win for businesses

A 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same benefits as a 5% increase in sales

Energy prices increase well above inflation. So as well as helping the environment, becoming more energy efficient cuts costs. And it’s no small bonus: Centrica reports that a 20% cut in energy costs can represent the same benefits as a 5% increase in sales. The same report found energy efficient firms are more than twice as likely to be well run and financially robust.

Businesses can also sign up to Demand Side Response schemes, which incentivise customers to move energy consumption to off-peak hours. 

And it’s not just about cost savings. Customers, staff and shareholders are demanding higher environmental standards. Firms using clean technology, such as LEDS, renewables and electric cars increase customer brand loyalty. So sustainable firms have an increasing competitive edge.

A survey published in November by Futerra showed that, overwhelmingly, consumers not only want companies to be sustainable, but also to help consumers live a more sustainable lifestyle.

We need industry leaders on climate change

While climate change presents serious challenges, organisations that plan ahead, invest and embrace clean technologies will see massive benefits. Increased profit, customer loyalty and business continuity.

Advances in technology make energy transformation easier than ever before. Changes that make good business sense, save carbon and help increase productivity are plentiful. The key is to act now. The one thing we do know: we don’t have time to wait. 

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