By Max Clarke

Climate change provides opportunities for growth for Britain’s businesses if they are proactive, said Environment Minister Lord Henley; echoing a report published last week by the Economist intelligence Unit.

To better inform businesses of the changes that can be made, the government’s department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in conjunction with the Chartered Institute for Management Accountants (CIMA), today launched the Climate Resilience Toolkit. The interactive online tool provides a tailored report for each business to help it focus on what it should be doing to prepare, such as checking the robustness of its supply chain, the threat of flooding to premises and possible changes in customer demand for products.

Said Lord Henley: “Climate change will have impacts on all UK businesses, such as the availability of resources, demand for different products, and the increased threat of floods, drought and other extreme weather. But smart businesses that take action now to limit the risks and identify the opportunities climate change could bring will steal a march on their rivals.

The Economist’s report suggested that two thirds of British businesses view climate change more as an opportunity than as a risk, though defra’s own report, published last year, found that 68% of UK businesses had failed to act on the risks and opportunities offered by a changing climate.

Businesses must, say Defra, not only consider how to reduce their environmental impact, but also how to adapt and build resilience to the expected impacts of climate change as part of their wider business model; as Andrew Harding, Executive Director at CIMA Markets, explains:

“Forward-thinking businesses must be aware of the risks and alive to the opportunities that climate change brings. Many SMEs fail to prepare for climate change, leaving it to the big players in industry to manage and mitigate those risks. This can leave many SMEs in a vulnerable position. It is vital that all businesses, whatever their size, assess these risks now and take action to manage those risks to avoid costly disruption. This online tool will improve organisations’ risk planning around climate change and will help them become more economically resilient.