The recent CSIRO reporting of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been making headlines across the world. It made headlines as it is a key indicator of global warming with the next major thresholds of 450 parts per million representing the mark for a 2.5 degree rise in global temperature.
The threat of climate change can be seen in the carbon reduction policies announced by the major political parties during the current federal election.
The result of climate change in the Canberra Region is being seen through longer drier summers and more intense storms. In March of this year, the ACT had its second longest stretch above 30 degrees Celsius on record. We had a maximum temperature of 31.1 degrees on 6 April – normally long after my heater has been turned on.
The ACT Government released a Draft ACT Climate Change Adaptation Strategy earlier this year to provide the community with a chance to provide feedback on what the ACT needs to do to reduce our vulnerability to existing and future impacts of climate change. It is now preparing a final strategy.
The necessity of adapting presents opportunities and challenges alike for businesses in the Territory.
ACT is a leader when it comes to acting to mitigate climate change. The government has a vision for Canberra to be a carbon neutral city by 2060. It plans to achieve this through ambitiously reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, shifting to renewable energy sources, and enhancing the resilience of our people, our city, our environment and our economy through effective adaptation measures.
This is in line with Canberra Business Chamber’s Destination 2030 plan, which prioritises resilience and liveability. Part of the Chamber’s goal was for Canberra to achieve status as one of the world’s 100 Resilient Cities. Due to our small size this program has not yet recognised us, but there are still ways we can be involved. Through this program, the ACT will be able to access a platform of services to support strategy implementation and monitor our success as a resilient city.
For businesses, adaptation will create demand for new services or products that they can take advantage of if they are prepared. For example, people are already demanding sustainable housing with high energy ratings. The ACT Government is providing financial incentives to encourage more environmentally sustainable commercial buildings. Infrastructure needs to be designed and constructed to withstand wear and tear from predicted future environmental events.
By 2030, the researchers estimate, the cost of climate change and air pollution are forecast to rise to 3.2% of global GDP.
The climate change economy is growing rapidly. According to the Climate Change Business Journal, climate change was a $300 billion U.S. industry in 2013, and worth $1.4 trillion worldwide. The size of this market indicates that there are market opportunities for companies that find innovative ways to respond to climate change.
In CBC ‘s Destination 2030, one of the opportunities identified was for the development of incentives for businesses which develop innovation in renewable technologies. Other opportunities exist in climate and environmental data. In the US town of Asheville, where the National Centers for Environmental Information is headquartered, 15 to 20 companies have opened in the past five years to turn climate and environmental data into products and services.
Today consumers are choosing to support businesses with strong green credentials and companies doing their bit for the future can use this as a marketing tool. It is expected that government tenders in the future will make sustainability a key item.
People will make different decisions in coming years about what they spend their money on and where they spend it. We believe, for example, how people travel around the city will change as commuters choose public transport over private cars. Renewable energy and environmentally friendly products, such as LED light bulbs, will become more commonly used.
As the community adapts and has new needs, local businesses will need to innovate to meet this change in priorities.
The likelihood of climate change and its economic impact means businesses will also need to take into account the impact of climate change on their own operational capacity. Infrastructure investment, for example, will need to take into account the increasing climate extremities.
A changing climate affects us all and we all have a role in preparing our region. I urge businesses to think about how they will adapt and what opportunities they can pursue to help the community.
Robyn Hendry, CEO
Canberra Business Chamber
Climate Change: Business Opportunities
DATE: Tuesday 28 June 2016
VENUE: Canberra Business Chamber, 216 Northbourne Ave, Braddon