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Small businesses 'must be more resilient to effects of climate change'

Small businesses 'must be more resilient to effects of climate change'

Small businesses 'must be more resilient to effects of climate change'

The small business community should be at the heart of efforts to tackle climate change and to prepare for increasingly volatile and damaging weather conditions.

That's according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which said the UK's smaller firms need to be "more resilient" to the "real and growing risk" posed by climate change, specifically in terms of flooding.

It followed the release of a risk assessment report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which itself drew on earlier FSB research showing that two-thirds of small and medium-sized enterprises had been negatively affected by severe weather in recent years.

The CCC study - which was compiled by hundreds of scientists and experts over the course of three years and ran to 2,000 pages - stressed that climate change is "happening now". Globally, 14 of the 15 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000.

It warned that the UK faces "urgent risks" including flooding and coastal change, dangers to health and productivity because of high temperatures, and food and water shortages.

Lord Krebs, chairman of the CCC's adaptation sub-committee, said the consequences of climate change are "becoming ever clearer", in the UK and across the globe.

"We must take action now to prepare for the further, inevitable changes we can expect," he added. "Delaying or failing to take appropriate steps will increase the costs and risks for all UK nations arising from the changing climate."

Looking at the issue from the small business perspective, Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said the increased risk of flooding and extreme weather is a major concern for vulnerable regions and communities.

He pointed out that the economic repercussions of these threats are not limited to businesses that suffer flooding first-hand.

"It disrupts supply chains, distribution channels and impacts whole communities," said Mr Cherry.

"Small businesses need to be empowered to improve their own resilience. That should be supported by bringing flood insurance premiums down to an affordable level. Flood risks must also be tackled and defences improved so that businesses have the confidence to remain at the heart of their local communities."

SMEs can play a part in the fight against climate change by making their own contributions to reducing man-made carbon emissions, phasing out fossil fuels and transferring to renewable energy.

Energy reduction and efficiency projects can start with simple steps such as putting stickers near light switches and electronic devices, reminding people to switch them off when they are not in use.

Managers should also take action to keep staff informed about the importance of recycling and encourage eco-friendly schemes such as car sharing or having people walk to work together.

Companies can also promote principles of environmental responsibility across the wider business environment, by only working with commercial partners and third-party service providers that have high-quality green credentials and accreditations.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/vicnt