By Max Clarke

Two-thirds of businesses see climate change as an opportunity rather than a risk, according to global businesses surveyed by UK Trade & Investment and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Adapting to an uncertain climate, a world of commercial opportunities is a new report offering insights from international firms on the business opportunities and potential pitfalls associated with adapting to global climate change issues whether it be changing rainfall patterns or extreme weather events.

The new report is based on a survey of more than 700 global executives from a range of sectors from the Middle East and Africa, Western Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America.

Ninety per cent of firms surveyed reported suffering climate impacts in the past three years; while one in five firms has already generated new revenue from adapting to climate change, the report has revealed.

“Recent floods and droughts across the world have demonstrated the urgency for business to adapt to the realities of climate change”. Explained Susan Haird, Acting Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment. “Whether it is designing flood defences or developing new techniques for crop resilience, UK firms have the skills, expertise and know-how to contribute to this global challenge.”

James Watson, contributing editor to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the author of the report said:
“In the coming decade, a significant amount of investment will be directed towards climate adaptation, especially within emerging markets. Along with rising climate impacts being felt by companies around the world, this is prompting rising awareness about the climate risks that businesses need to adapt to, but also about the new commercial opportunities that are opening up as a result.”

“A small, but rising, proportion of firms from a range of industries are already tapping into such opportunities, with products ranging from drought-resistant seeds and climate insurance to an array of consulting, law and engineering services.”

A UN study forecasts that $49-171 billion will be required annually by 2030 to deal with climate adaptation.
Globally, 31 per cent of those polled said their businesses were actively planning or adapting to climate change in some way. Europe overall registered 33 per cent, with the Middle East and Africa 31 per cent and North America 25 per cent. Asia tops the league at 37 per cent, which is a reflection of their greater exposure to climate risks.

From a country perspective, Mexican businesses were above average in actively planning or adapting to climate change. Thirty-six per cent of Mexican businesses said they were doing so, as opposed to the global average of 31 per cent. Australian firms were most active, with forty-five per cent of those polled actively working on the issue. In the US, 22 per cent said they were working on this.

British firms are already innovating in response to adaptation across the four sectors considered in detail in the report: financial services; infrastructure and construction; professional services and consulting; and agriculture and life sciences. For example, HSBC is offering insurance products to cover climate-related losses to crops and repair homes and cars affected by weather events in vulnerable markets. In agriculture, the Scottish Crop Research Institute has partnered with UK beverage company Ribena, to develop new varieties of blackcurrants that are more resilient to climate change.