This momentous COP26, we’re delighted to be in Glasgow with our series of fringe events, exploring the challenges and opportunities for business to step up and take the necessary action to protect people and the planet.
Our series opened on Sunday evening, with our Business Climate Resilience Reception: If Not Now, Then When? We were delighted to be joined by our guest speakers Martyn Link, Chief Strategy Officer of our first Ambassador, Wood; Harry Bowcott, Senior Partner – Sustainability Lead, McKinsey & Company; Shakti Ramkumar, Director of Policy & Communications, Student Energy; and Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County’s first woman Mayor.
Here are the key takeaways:
The #RaceToZero is just one half of the coin
While much focus is on the #RaceToZero, we also need to remember the importance of the #RaceToResilience – and turn our strategy to both. The IPCC report in August revealed that some changes in the Earth’s system are now locked in, and we are not going to manage to mitigate fast enough to avoid the most severe impacts. With the planet on track for a 2.7°C temperature rise – which will have catastrophic effects in many parts of the world – raising awareness of resilience and standardising what good resilience looks like are going to play a crucial role.
Good resilience: good for people, for the planet – and for business
While, historically, terrific work in building resilience has been carried out by the public and the third sector, this is not enough. We need to mobilise more private capital. Businesses that act now to build their own resilience will not only improve the lives and livelihoods of their colleagues but will also improve resilience for the communities, cities, and countries they operate within. And there has never been a time when the financial motivations of a company and the social motivations of the drive to resilience and net zero have been better aligned.
There has always been a correlation between resilience and shareholder return. As companies develop greater understanding of the price of climate risk, so there is a greater mandate to build corporate resilience. With investors really beginning to grasp the implications of climate risk, we’re starting to understand how climate resilience can impact on profit and how a business’s position on climate is becoming ever more understood by consumers.
Lower exposure to climate risk promises the ability to sustain greater productivity, lower unit costs, lower working capital, and strengthens business continuity. The #RaceToResilience is one worth winning – for shareholders and for all.
The fundamental questions for every business
- How fragile are my assets today in the context of climate hazard?
- How will that change with a series of future scenarios (there is no one scenario)?
- How does that compare with my competition?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to get granular to understand the threats that you face and use your answers to make a financially motivated, business and stakeholder-driven investment in resilience:
- Where are your assets?
- Where are your communities?
- Where do your supply chains go through?
Young people want business to take action
Young people want business to implement change at a scale that matches the challenge presented by the climate crisis. At the heart of this is a desire for systems change, rethinking how and why we do business – and placing equity high on the agenda. How does business uphold and perpetuate unsustainable and unjust systems that have contributed to the climate crisis?
As Shakti Ramkumar noted, change won’t be easy, and it may mean actively challenging BAU – including ceasing operations that are harming the planet, re-allocating funding away from activities that are contributing to the climate crisis, and placing the planet and the collective well-being of all citizens above conventional metrics such as profit and growth. It will also mean reinvesting – time, financial resources, and innovation capacity – into overlooked climate solutions available to us, and investing in the next generation, who will have to implement many of the changes we are setting in motion now.
With thanks to our speakers for their rich insights during our evening.