Climate Change: How Business Should Respond to the Pressing Crisis

March 26, 20212:35 pm1038 views
Climate Change: How Business Should Respond to the Pressing Crisis
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The world has changed dramatically after the Industrial Revolution in 1760. Many inventions have been made and enabled massive development for humanity, with a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and more. This progress, however, comes with a price. As the world and businesses start to prosper, the planet is dying – we are in a climate crisis. 

Human’s reliance on industrial activities over the years has led to exacerbated climate change. Toxic materials and gases are burned and released into the atmosphere. These gases absorb radiation from the sun, impacting the temperature of the planet. The effects of rising temperature are many, including risk of species of animals becoming extinct, increase in natural disasters, melting of ice caps which increase sea levels. Consequently, some lands might once again become the ocean. 

“Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.” – Paul Polman, Former CEO, Unilever 

The risks – Asia is more vulnerable to the rising climates 

According to the United Nation councils, Asia accounts for over 50 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Scaled-up climate action in the region could lead to a great impact. For example, large populations in the region are prone to the influences of rising sea levels because most major cities are located along coastlines. A rise in abnormal weather events expands the impact of changing climate towards inland cities. 

Natural disasters could happen more frequently in every part of the world – but Asia regions might be hit the worst. Between 2014 and 2017, Asia-Pacific regions were affected by 508 natural disasters, impacting 650 million people and causing 33,000 deaths. Vulnerability to natural disaster is not solely a matter of where a person lives but also depends on the way the individuals live. As an instance, many Asia-Pacific nations share large growing populations with a high proportion of people living in poverty. This condition creates a lack of resources to build adequate sea defences, thus exposing them to monsoon rains, floods, and storms. 

“We cannot burn our way to the future. We cannot pretend the danger does not exist – or dismiss it because it affects someone else.” – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations 

See also: The Importance of Natural Disaster Simulation at Work

Action has been taken but it needs everyone’s support to really ends climate change

Climate crisis is a continuous issue and some individuals, companies, and organisations are already taking action towards it. For example, raising awareness by creating #EarthHour, #EarthDay and #WorldEnvironmentDay that focuses on restoring the planet and battling climate emergencies. Some agreements and changes in the industry system have also been created. Here are some of the changes (taken from Deloitte review):

  • Regulatory compliance – the Paris Agreement that was signed in 2016. There are also climate-related policies that might include tax incentives for renewable energies. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda has also been mandated. 
  • Brand differentiation – there is a shift in market demand, for example, global consumers are willing to pay higher-than-average prices for products made with sustainable materials. 
  • Innovation and opportunity creation – business stakeholders are now demanding climate-friendly and climate-resilient products or services. 
  • Operational efficiency – this helps reduce emissions and stabilise supplies while bringing cost-saving benefits to business performance. 
  • Talent attraction, engagement, and retention – job seekers, especially millennials consider working in a company that have social and environmental commitments. 
  • Capital access – investors increasingly recognise and aim to address climate change-related risks and opportunities. 

Considered the world’s biggest manufacturer, China has mounted a vigorous response to climate risks and opportunities. The country’s adaptation agenda has covered infrastructure resiliency, hazard alerts, emergency-relief planning, and other measures. China has topped all nations in renewable-energy investment for seven years and owned the most wind and solar capacity of any country. In sectors that use a lot of energy, carbon intensity has dropped significantly. This pathway could make China limit its exposure to both physical climate risk and transition risk, as well as growing its economy. 

Singapore has also made tremendous efforts for climate emergency. The Singapore Government helps raise awareness and build capabilities to improve energy efficiency. A major part of this effort involves addressing sector-specific barriers using incentives or regulatory measures where appropriate. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee said during The Singapore Parliament Committee of Supply Debate in 2012 that achieving more emission reductions will require behavioural adjustments and changes to a business process. Therefore, the country will need to consider more stringent energy efficiency standards and legislation, along with measures taken by other countries. 

While the battle is progressing, more support is needed to really eliminate the negative effects of the crisis. Therefore, starting from industry and businesses, it will be helpful to create benefits while responding to climate change. Here is how employers can support the government’s and individual’s efforts in battling climate change: 

  • Measures your organisation’s energy usage and carbon emission levels 
  • Utilise energy-efficient appliances and machinery 
  • Embrace and wisely use data and smart technology 
  • Supplement your energy needs with renewable energy sources 
  • Create a corporate directive across the company 
  • Choose and support environmentally conscious vendors and suppliers 
  • Equip your organisation to fight against climate change and adapt to the consequences that might occur over time. 

“We are the first generation to be able to end poverty and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities.” –  Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Read also: “Give to Receive” How to Succeed in Your Corporate Social Responsibility with Quek Shiyun, Head, Company of Good, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)