More businesses today are adapting to become sustainable — using renewable energy and recycled materials are becoming standard practices. While this is a good and necessary step, it’s not the end.
Companies becoming more climate-friendly should also aim to be more climate resilient. Climate resilience is all about preparing to withstand more extreme environments and weather events. It’s a crucial step for businesses today.
Even if every country meets its goals under the Paris Agreement, temperatures will still rise 3.2° Celsius this century. Consequently, events like flash floods and wildfires will become increasingly common.
If businesses don’t prepare for this future, they could experience some hefty losses. Flooding can cause significant property damage, costing stores near the coast thousands or even millions to recover. In other areas, hurricanes could bring supply chains to a halt or extreme temperatures could set warehouses on fire.
By contrast, companies that adapt before encountering these extremes could avoid the losses their competitors experience. More importantly, they could protect the well-being of their employees and customers.
What a resilient climate company looks like is different for every business. However, there are some steps that every organization should take. Here’s a general overview of the process.
The first and most crucial step is to prevent future climate extremes as much as possible. Practices like reducing energy consumption and eliminating emissions will minimize a business’s impact on the environment. If enough companies do the same, the world can avoid the most severe climate change consequences.
Going green can also foster customer loyalty and save money in many cases. That will help businesses mitigate future losses.
Next, business owners should review what specific climate risks they can expect. Knowing what challenges you could face is critical to understanding how to overcome them.
Hurricanes may be the biggest threat to coastal businesses, while companies in the midwest may worry more about tornados and snowstorms. Reviewing past weather trends and consulting environment experts can help organizations understand and rank these risks.
One of the most vulnerable parts of any business is its supply chain. As a result, making supply chains more resilient is a vital part of climate resiliency, no matter what type of company you run.
This could look like moving factories away from cities — most of which will be experiencing a different climate than their own by 2050. It may also involve sourcing from multiple locations to minimize the impact of extreme weather in one area. Better data forecasting to see incoming disasters will help, too.
Businesses need to apply whatever physical defenses would help them avoid the most likely and damaging disasters. These could be flood walls for facilities near bodies of water or advanced fire suppression systems for those in drier wooded areas.
The protections will vary between locations, but all should have early warning systems. Regardless of the specific situation, responding early is one of the most essential factors for resiliency.
Finally, companies should develop a business continuity plan. This detailed strategy outlines how different departments should respond to emergencies, including who does what and how to communicate.
One-quarter of small businesses don’t recover from natural disasters and a lack of preparedness is one of the biggest reasons. If more companies have a plan for these emergencies, more will survive — and even thrive — afterward.
Preventing climate disasters is essential and it’s encouraging to see many businesses embracing these initiatives today. However, they must also become climate resilient to lessen the impact of the inevitable. If companies follow these steps, they can ensure climate change won’t spell the end for them or the planet.
See more posts from Jane Marsh at environment.co
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