The Climate Trap: Politics versus Disaster Management - a case for a Climate Impact Assessment

Where does your business stand in the unending climate change debate? On one level, your organization could be liable for climate tax and other environment-driven deductions to save the planet. On the other hand, you could be facing various challenges from the many climate-related natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. What are the most important things you need to know about all these contrasting points?

Image Source: Discovery Magazine

Climate change remains a contentious matter. First, it is denied by some.

Secondly, it is difficult to quantify it.

Third, it is complex to apportion responsibility for emissions.

One thing that is clear from these three submissions is that the absolute and all-encompassing climate change solution from governments and the international community will take time. International agreements of this nature take a long time to be reached. When they are reached, their implementation and enforcement take a long time.

However, talk of climate change abound in the media.

What few people talk about is the immediate risk of climate change related disasters. Almost every major natural disaster is flatly blamed on climate change. From forest fires to floods and hurricanes – the media is quick to blame it on global warming and thereby taking an abstract, rather than pragmatic approach to the situation.

The pragmatic element of natural disasters relates to how to manage these disasters quickly and effectively. This has to do with the detection, control, and collaboration of stakeholders to provide preventive solutions before these climate related disasters and corrective action when they occur.

Businesses cannot wait for the bottlenecks in disaster management to be fixed. Directors of companies need to ensure they have a plan to deal with the threats of weather-oriented natural disasters.

What we know for a fact is that such climate-based natural disasters are set to increase. This is something that is proven. Yet, governments and those who lobby them continue to focus on climate change and pay very little attention on disasters and their management.

Therefore, a business and its directors have the ultimate responsibility of detecting and controlling natural disasters linked to changing climactic factors. Such a drive might require setting up a Climate Impact Assessment unit that would help directors gather information and monitor trends.

A path for defining the core elements of such a climate impact assessment process could include:

1. Macro: For broader global climate change disasters that could affect business

2. Meso: Weather related disasters that could affect key intermediaries like suppliers and consumers and

3. Micro: The elements of climate-related events that could affect a company’s core operations.

Climate Impact Assessment will have to make climate-based disaster management issues a priority. It would involve gathering data, forecasting, and planning to deal with climate change. The functional component could include detecting disasters linked to climate change and take preventive actions.

Executive Summary

Climate change solutions by governments and those who lobby them are geared towards abstract ideas. It will take a long time for any real results to manifest. Therefore, meeting your basic environmental footprint targets as an organization might be alright for now. Carbon taxes and other enforceable regulations will take a while. However, directors remain answerable to their shareholders. Thus, corporate governance must focus on foreseeable climate-related disaster management and apply a structured Climate Impact Assessment framework to gather data and monitor weather-related natural disasters like floods, forest fires and hurricanes and position their organizations appropriately.

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