Businesses prepare to assess climate change impacts under new laws

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Firms will have to disclose climate-related financial information, ensuring they consider the risks and opportunities they face as a result of climate change under new rules introduced from 6 April.

The Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will see over 1,300 of the largest UK-registered companies required to disclose climate-related financial information.

Rules will apply to traded as well as private companies which employ over 500 staff and make £500 million in turnover.

However, Dr Keith Whitehead, Senior Environmental Consultant at the British Safety Council, says: “It’s not just the big companies looking at this – we are seeing smaller companies which are also reviewing their climate change impacts, particularly those with a long supply chain and located in areas which are geographically and meteorologically prone to sever weather impacts such as flooding, snow and ice and high winds.

“These companies are looking at how they can risk assess vulnerability to climate change across their processes, logistics and supply chains, infrastructure, finances and impacts on staff and customers.”

Companies with a long supply chain and located in areas which are more prone to severe weather impacts are also making risk assessments for climate change. Photograph: iStock

Risk assessments will look at the cost of climate change on a company’s markets, finances and insurance for flooding. Any impacts on employees from extreme weather – such as heat stroke at work, commuting during extreme weather events and air pollution - will also form part of risk assessing, as will any opportunities that arise from climate change.

The TCFD changes come as the latest IPCC report on climate change warns of worsening impacts if temperatures rise even a little further. Staple crop production will become impossible in places if warming goes past 1.5°C and lands will become uninhabitable driving displacement and involuntary migration of millions of people and all the health, safety and wellbeing issues that will entail.

“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and planetary health,” says the report. “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

An Introduction to Climate Change Risk Assessment and Financial Disclosures for Business webinar will be held on 17 March for members of the BSC. Find out more here:


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