Adaptation to climate change - not just a public policy issue

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

Climate change is no longer an issue for governments to resolve alone.  The private sector can play a valuable role in advising on what policies would encourage action by business, according to a new study by PwC.

The study, Business leadership on climate change and adaptation, was launched to coincide with the Global Business Day at the recent UN Climate Summit in Cancun, presents the views of a range of businesses, from major multinationals to local enterprises, on adaptation to climate change.

It was conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and supported by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UK Department for International Development.

It concludes that business has an important role to play in adaptation, and that better engagement of business is needed in the policy-shaping process to harness this. The role of business is not just in preparing its own assets and operations for anticipated climate change, but also providing know how, solutions and resources to the adaptation challenge.

This ranges from climate risk assessment, to designing disaster risk management and financing vehicles, and designing and deploying new technologies.

Dr Celine Herweijer, director, PwC sustainability and climate change, said: 'For business, adaptation is not just a defensive play, to protect business as usual. It is about capitalising on new opportunities, innovations and markets. That's often the forgotten story.'

The report highlights that collaboration between governments and business is crucial to scaling up action and investment on adaptation. Richard Gledhill, head of climate change services at PwC, said:

'Traditionally, policymakers and the private sector don't just sit in different rooms, they speak different languages. The new enthusiasm that the UNFCCC and the Mexican Government hosts are showing for engaging the private sector will be good for business and good for climate. Business engagement is not a nice to have, it's a must have in the process.'

Recommendations from the report that were released in Cancun called for more business action on adaptation, better representation of business in the international process, and collaboration with governments in the development of adaptation responses. It covers five key areas:

  • National planning and implementation of adaptation;
  • Assessment of risks, impacts and vulnerability and knowledge sharing;
  • Technology development and transfer;
  • Disaster risk management and insurance;
  • Financing adaptation activities.

Commenting in the report Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said: 'Adaptation to climate change is no longer the exclusive ambit of the public sector. Investment in adaptation makes business sense, due both to the need for companies to climate-proof their operations, as well as to the new business opportunities opening in the area of adaptation. Companies that act on this vision place themselves in the forefront of sustainable entrepreneurship.'

The report found that increased public and private action on adaptation would be central to the effectiveness of any future international framework agreement on climate change.

The Full Report and the Executive Summary are available for download.

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