How can organisations adapt to climate change? By Anna Cantwell

Being from the UK where the weather tends to be pretty uneventful (drizzle, grey skies, the odd patch of sun), living in Sydney during Australia’s 2019-2020 Black Summer was a huge shock and my first in-person experience of climate change. I remember ash floating through the windows, commuting through plumes of smoke that descended onto the harbour, and walking through the aftermath where once beautiful bushland looked like singed graveyards.

Fast forward to summer 2022 when I returned to the UK (mostly to reunite with family, but also to escape Australia’s relentless La Niña) and experienced a record-breaking summer. It’s official, we’re experiencing climate change. As you’ve no doubt found, these climate events don’t just impact the environment, they also disrupt the businesses and associated supply chains that are part of our everyday lives.

You may have noticed that there’s a lack of imported Australian wine available right now? This is primarily because vintages from 19-20 were completely destroyed in the fires and the wines that were produced from grapes grown at that time have a smoky taste. During July and August, rail services around Britain were severely disrupted due to extreme heat and flash flooding, not only affecting transportation of people, but the transportation of goods.

And a few weeks ago, we started to see the effects of heatwaves and droughts within the Chinese province of Sichuan which is a huge international manufacturing hub. Sichuan, which relies on hydropower to generate 80% of its power, ordered factories in various industries such as producers of lithium, fertilisers, and other metals to shut down so that available electricity could be used by the people living in the affected areas.

So what now?

The climate crisis requires urgent action now more than ever. However, along with taking action to mitigate climate change, the time has come for businesses and supply chains to adapt. Climate change adaptation is about protecting against the actual climate, and expected future climate.

But what does climate change adaptation look like for organisations?

  • Think about what the impact of climate change looks like for your operations, products and services, supply chain, and customer base. For example, is your manufacturing facility located next to a river which could flood? Can your service be delivered during extreme high temperatures? Are any of your key suppliers based in geographies that are experiencing severe drought? Will customers still want to purchase your products if they start experiencing climate change?
  • Start to prioritise the risks and impacts to address, considering factors such as likelihood, consequence, level of influence, and investment required. Remember, you can’t manage everything, focus on those areas which are key to your organisation.
  • Develop an adaptation strategy. Including actions such as, investing in flood defences for at risk manufacturing facilities, reviewing insurance policies, developing a training programme for employees on how to maintain health and wellbeing when working in extreme weather conditions. Also providing relevant equipment to support, investigate what high risk suppliers and customers are doing to adapt to climate change and collaborate to find adaptation solutions where required.
  • As this is an ever-changing situation, continually review and monitor the impacts and associated adaptation strategies.

Has your organisation already been affected by climate change, either in your direct operations or supply chain? Have you started to think about how to adapt to climate change?

If you’d like more information on climate change and sustainable procurement, reach out to Anna Cantwell – Senior Consultant – anna@actionsustainability.com

For more information

Anna Cantwell
Senior Consultant
anna@actionsustainability.com

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