What if? Business Planning for Climate Adaptation

by | Dec 9, 2008

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poznan129081.jpgKevin Tuerff, CEO, Green Canary Sustainability Consulting, will be reporting for us all week from Poznan, Poland.

What if your coastal hotel chain is hit by hurricanes every year?

What if your chip-making plant doesn’t have enough water from the utility, despite guarantees?

What if you sell a high-end consumer product and your customers suddenly have less disposable income due to increased electricity and gasoline costs?

What if the number of days you may legally drill for oil in the Arctic dwindles due to thawing of permafrost?

Changes in the earth’s climate system could have severe repercussions on how business operates. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began studying issues related to climate adaptation five years ago.

According to Andrew Roberts, manager of carbon and environmental products for ConocoPhillips, an increasing number of businesses are asking themselves hard questions about climate adaptation. Roberts spoke December 9 about climate adaptation at Poznan Business Day, sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the International Chamber of Commerce. “Adaptation is a term and subject which has always been a part of climate change discussions, but is also one, which for the majority of players involved in those discussions, has taken a back-seat, while the prime focus has been on mitigation.”

Roberts suggests three ways to evaluate adaptation:

  • Within the fence line (operations and supply chain)
  • Outside the fence line (in partnership with surrounding communities)
  • Over the horizon (collaborating with the global community)

“Rather than develop a climate adaptation plan, you should look at your company’s existing energy plan, facilities plan, water resources and emergency continuity plan,” Roberts said.  “Then start asking the hard questions.”

The World Resources Institute examined 135 adaptation case studies in its report, “Weathering the Storm,” and the Heinz Center’s “Survey of Climate Adaptation Planning” (PDF) compares eight previously published guides.

Kevin Tuerff, CEO, Green Canary Sustainability Consulting, is reporting for Environmental Leader from Poznan, Poland.  

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