Environmental change is happening

The answer is blowing in the wind – and careful assessment and planning

Quite a lot has been happening in the environmental sphere over the past few months.

At the end of May we had the news that electricity from wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power had surpassed that generated by coal and gas by more than 1 per cent. This was the first time since the Industrial Revolution that energy generation from zero-carbon sources exceeded that from fossil fuels. Many hailed it as a ‘watershed moment’ in the move to hit the UK’s net-zero targets by 2050. Very recently, however, we have heard that the switch mechanisms in many renewable plants and connections release greenhouse gases far more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. It seems another case of ‘swings and roundabouts’. However, the direction of travel is the right one.

In August, we learned that a British technology start-up business may have found a solution to the curse of intermittency for wind and solar power, far more quickly than anyone had thought possible. Highview Power is pioneering a new way of storing electricity for long periods and if – and it remains a big ‘if’ at this stage - it can deliver on its promises this could be a revolutionary break-through.

How does this impact on us and our businesses?

In June, the first international standard for climate change was launched - ISO 14090:2019. It is intended to provide organisations with an approach that will allow them to give appropriate consideration to climate change adaptation when designing, implementing and updating policies, strategies, plans and activities.

It is hoped that applying the approach set out in the standard will assist in demonstrating that a particular organisation’s approach to climate change adaptation is credible and that, in turn, ought to provide reassurance to investors, funders or insurance companies – all of which will bring beneficial consequences to that organisation. When some of the world’s biggest companies recently valued climate risks to their businesses at nearly one trillion dollars, the impact of climate change cannot be ignored – no matter what the scale of your business might be.

Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, extreme weather and greenhouse gas emissions are all aspects of our changing climate that can impact businesses. Importantly, though, they can also create opportunities – as the news about Highview Power demonstrates. The same companies that had valued the risks to their businesses said that they valued the potential gains from business opportunities arising through climate change-associated activities at more than double the downside.

Having robust plans in place to adapt to climate change is key to business success. The new standard will help businesses not only assess climate change impacts and put plans in place to deal with them by identifying and managing risks, but it will also enable many to seize any opportunities that climate change may bring. It goes without saying that assessing and preparing your business for climate impacts will make it more resilient.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.