Your business and climate change
We can help your business to understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change – and become a responsible business that plays its part in Scotland’s transition to a low carbon future.
Climate change will lead to changes in technology, law and markets that have been described as comparable in scale to the industrial revolution.
Your business will be faced with significant new risks, responsibilities and opportunities. How will you be impacted and what should you be doing now?
Climate change creates risks to both the safety and soundness of individual firms and to the stability of the financial system. These risks are already starting to crystallise and have the potential to increase substantially in the future.
Mark Carney, Governor at Bank of England
Climate Emergency Training
Carbon Management Services
National Award for Environmental Excellence®
How will climate change impact my business?
Climate change is already impacting everyone in Scotland. Below are some of the risks and opportunities for the Scottish business community.
Scotland’s climate is already changing. Temperatures have increased, sea levels have risen and rainfall patterns have changed with increased seasonality and more heavy downpours. These changes are projected to continue and intensify in the coming years. They will impact our infrastructure, health, food supply, water supply and natural environment. In the last 12 months, business premises in Scotland have experienced overheating and flooding while transport has been disrupted by flooded tunnels and sagging power lines. Find out more about how these changes will impact businesses at Adaptation Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government to help businesses and communities prepare for a changing climate.
The Scottish Parliament passed a new Climate Change Act in 2019 with the aim of ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change within a generation. Along with similar UK legislation, this will drive significant future changes to legislation in a number of key areas including building standards, efficiency requirements for plant and equipment, vehicle standards, emissions reporting requirements and waste management. The recent ruling on the expansion of Heathrow Airport by the Court of Appeal demonstrates the far-reaching impact of climate change legislation on ‘business as usual’ in the UK.
Meeting Scotland’s new emissions standards will require a new industrial revolution. In the coming years there will be widespread and significant changes to many of the technologies that we rely on every day including energy generation and distribution, transport, building, urban planning, food production, land use and material use and recovery. Adapting to these new technologies will need careful research, significant investment and the development of new workforce skills. An international task force led by Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg concludes that as new technology displaces old systems “winners and losers will emerge from the ‘creative destruction’ process”.
Climate change will lead to significant and complex shifts in supply and demand for many commodities, products and services as a result of shifts in technology and legal frameworks as well as increased consumer concern feeding through to purchasing choices.
The 2018 Scottish Government household Survey found that 65% of Scottish adults “view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem.” As customers and employees become more concerned about climate change, businesses are recognising the need to manage reputational risk and demonstrate responsible climate behaviours.
Reducing emissions requires improved resource efficiency, not just in relation to energy but also to the management of materials, water and waste. Doing things differently can also increase staff productivity. For example, increased flexible working and use of video conferencing for meetings reduces transport emissions and staff travel time. Although initial investment may be required, longer-term business running costs can often be reduced.
The move towards decentralised clean energy sources and improved storage capacities presents businesses with opportunities to generate their own energy or to access lower cost energy from local producers.
Product and service opportunities
Businesses that innovate and develop low emissions products and services are likely to improve competitiveness and find new markets and customers. For example, in Scotland, public procurement will increasingly specify low emissions products and services. Globally, it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the availability of finance to develop new low emissions products and services.
Staff recruitment and retention
Climate change is a significant concern for Scotland’s young people, including new graduates. Increasingly the most talented young employees will want to work for businesses that are demonstrating responsible climate behaviours and leading the way to a low carbon future.
The finance sector is already asking global investment funds to voluntarily disclose their climate-related risks. It is likely that this form of reporting will develop and extend and that companies that can demonstrate their ability to adapt and respond to climate change will be in a stronger position to access long term finance.