Some people think climate change is still an unsettled issue, but the truth is that the science was largely settled in 1979. Now, the evidence is so overwhelming that no one can credibly say it’s not happening.
But it remains the case that businesses are not as aware of climate change as much as you might think. In the most part they are also unprepared for the challenges – and opportunities – ahead. Thankfully, though, they are now aware that they have to take this issue more seriously. And it makes sense to do this, especially in terms of ensuring their business thrives, as an understanding of climate solutions provides market prescience and informs stakeholder and customer values, and staff engagement.
In Scotland, the ambitious targets (42% reductions by 2020) as laid out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 put us in the top echelon of the world’s commitments. We are ahead of the curve in research, in innovation and in academia. And this is probably why the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 26 is coming to Glasgow later this year. Our position as a leader is recognised by the international community. But more still needs to be done.
So where does that leave business? Well, basically, it’s got to the point where business leaders or strategists can’t ignore climate change – it just doesn’t make business sense.
The first obvious thing is around adaptation. You can’t be robust as a business if your staff can’t get to work, or you can’t access resources. This is why unions, the Scottish government, the British government, Europe, and the vast majority of the world’s governments are looking towards the future, and how we deal with global trade and resource extraction in the face of climate change.
Adding to these physical risks is the fact that your customers, stakeholders and shareholders are now demanding to know what is being done in terms of sustainability – because they want to see action. If businesses want to keep trading into the future they will have to engage.
Perth can be a Leader for Change
The good news is that the shape and pace of change – of how the future looks – is up for grabs. What trade barriers are there going to be, what taxes and legislation are businesses going to face? Businesses can help to influence these decisions. But they can also choose to show leadership, and benefit from our international profile on this issue. There is an incredible opportunity for those businesses that choose to be involved – and with Scotland ahead of the curve globally, Perth, with its high quality environment and compact size has a real chance to be at the forefront of these changes.
We could be exemplary. The newly released Perth City Development Plan talks about streets for people, climate change, mitigation, sustainable transport, connectivity, digital hubs – all these issues can be driven by business, positively affecting quality of life.
We have a fantastic city with one of the best physical environments in Europe. We’ve already got great assets: Europe’s largest public transport provider, Stagecoach, is on the doorstep; SSE is one of the largest renewable energy providers in Europe. And, of course, farming and land use is a fundamental part of the community, which so relies on the quality of the environment.
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