Photo Credit: Benjamin Davies, UnSplash
New - Climate Change Transition Series
Climate change is not going away and according to the Federation of European Risk Managers Association (FERMA) Annual Survey 2020, it remains the number one long-term risk to any organisation or business. Last month, Sheena Thomson Consulting, in collaboration with Geollect, launched a free, data-rich, climate information platform to help inform anyone on the core climate data to assist with their climate action planning.
Leaders and those driving the response to the challenges of climate change have many competing risks at the moment, particularly during the pandemic. To help with this transition to a more sustainable and carbon-free future, Sheena Thomson Consulting will be blogging on the first Wednesday of each month on the important climate-related transition issues that matter, so please do subscribe to this blog. We also encourage you to share, engage, and let us know what you would like to read about. firstname.lastname@example.org
A source of hope and inspiration?
During November continued to see a rollercoaster of inimitable, extraordinary, and unparalleled news that will be added to the history books by which we will remember 2020. A short recap of what springs to mind:
- Accusations of fraud in the US Presidential Election - the global bastion and advocate of democracy
- UK government 10-point plan announced, to reach carbon zero emissions in the UK
- Full extent of the UK’s economic emergency revealed – an 11.3% drop in GDP in 2020
- Second UK lockdown with many businesses face the potential consequences of this: mental health; financial constraints.
- Great clinical trial news from Pfizer/BioTec h, Moderna, and the Oxford/Astra Zeneca teams working on a COVID-19 vaccine, and today news of the Pfizer vaccine approval in the UK
Periods of uncertainty and an ever-changing landscape, over which we have little control, are very unsettling and cause anxiety. COVID-19 has laid this bare, with many of society's challenges shunted to the side as public safety and economic survival continue to take centre stage. Yet the news coming through of the new vaccine trials and the first approval for use in the UK is a huge source of hope – not just from a public safety and economic perspective but also from a climate change perspective. Through the combination of an international emergency with political urgency, investment, and, most importantly, science and public support, collabrative cross-border solutions can be found at speed.
Why engage with climate change during a pandemic?
Even if not directly impacted, many across the world are impacted by climate change in some way. The planet has been gradually warming for many years now, with a sharp acceleration over the last 30 years. Climate related risks and its potential consequences is increasingly on boardroom agendas with changing political and legal requirements, for example the introduction in the UK of mandatory regulatory reporting requirements of climate related financial risks. However, climate change is an issue for everyone to address – leaders, individuals, families, volunteer group, business, public service, politicians – to identify and balance the immediate risks, issues, and challenges with long-term considerations.
Two weeks ago, Sheena Thomson Consulting launched a new climate information platform with Geollect to help anyone with an interest in climate change. This platform provides data related to air temperature, precipitation, and CO2 levels in a geospatial context to illustrate the past and present data visually, as well as a modelling tool to see the potential future effects of continued warming. The hard stats and facts are compelling and objective. The free platform is a useful tool for those engaged in advocating and communicating the climate crisis in business, policy, and wider society as the pressures to transition to a carbon zero future accelerate.
Next year, the UK hosts the delayed UN COP26 in Glasgow. This, combined with the UK Government’s 10-point plan, is a clear starting point for such acceleration and provides an opportunity – and a challenge – for leaders to plan and execute the transition to a carbon zero future. The announcement of the earlier phasing out of the sale of petrol and diesel cars is an extremely ambitious transition for the automotive industry. Others will arise, so how do those plan and execute change and transition related to climate change?
Many organisations already recognise the impact of climate change in their strategies, operations, or reporting. For those that still have this on their radar, have competing priorities or do not know where to start, a simple review of existing strategies, operations, and policies, and the impact or potential impact of climate change risks, is a good place to begin. Engaging and communicating with your main stakeholder is essential to reveal those risks: employees; suppliers and supply chains; clients and customers; investors and shareholders. It is only when the risks, threats, and opportunities are identified that you can look at mitigation or realign your strategy. This is a crucial part of the transition. Identifying the current state, the direction of travel, and how to mitigate and see the opportunities the threat of climate change may have in any organisation.
Executing the change and adapting is the next stage. This is what takes a lot more planning and targeted approach communicating with those that are part of the adaptation process. Well thought out engagement, influencing, and communications with all those who are required to adapt. There are many change management models to choose from, but what is most important is that you choose one that is right for your organisational strategy, policy, or campaign. It may range from a simple change in behaviour, habit, or culture shift, right through to a complete change in strategy and direction. Examples of these vary from the phasing out of physical tickets for public transport in favour of apps and contactless to changing an entire business model and strategy like Orsted, the Danish energy company which completely shifted from fossil fuels to entirely being a renewable energy provider.
What gave public transport providers and Orsted the means to make such a dramatic change in their business model was evolving technology and innovation. Investing in research and development enables and encourages the engineering of new solutions to the climate related risks, threats and opportunities. This is crucial for leaders to embrace within their business strategy, both to survive and thrive post-pandemic, as more signatories to the Paris Agreement increase the regulatory environment compelling us to evolve towards a sustainable future. Most importantly though, it is what the younger generation is now demanding, and this is having a direct impact on investment and asset management decisions.
The immediate challenges of COVID-19 is understandably the main focus for all of us at the moment. However, the pandemic has given us cause to pause and see what is possible when we collaborate, communicate and have a clear goal shared by all nations What has helped accelerate achieving our international goal is the development of effective vaccines. This too is part of the mitigation, adaptation and evolution stages towards a post-pandemic new normal. That of course features climate change and the even bigger challenges it presents us all with. We have seen what is possible to transition rapidly and adapt, alongside the complexities and competing priorities such as the global economic recession Brexit, cyber threats, and everything else on a risk register. This is surely a source of hope and call to action to address climate related risks, with effective and engaging communications and innovation centre playing a critical role in the transition to a more sustainable, carbon zero future.