It’s now widely accepted that climate change is increasingly causing extreme weather, such as heavy rain, heat waves and severe storms. In the UK, heavy rain has caused numerous flood events in recent years, however, heat waves are considered rare.
Interestingly, 1st July 2015 was the hottest July day ever recorded in the UK with temperatures hitting 36.7oC (98oF) at Heathrow and a level 3 "heat wave action" heat-health alert was declared for all parts of England. Is this a sign for things to come with hotter summers and milder winters? And do UK businesses need to adapt to this?
In urban areas hotter summers may lead to the urban heat island effect – this is when building and other developments retain heat, adding several degrees to the temperature in built up areas. For your business this could affect processes and cause equipment to overheat and fail. It may also be difficult to send and receive goods as road surfaces soften causing travel disruption. More importantly, working conditions for staff could be unbearable and ensuring their safety is paramount. You may be surprised to know that the heat wave in 2003 killed 2000 people in the UK.
It’s very important for businesses to be prepared for climate change and also be able to adapt. Businesses may need to be flexible with working hours and clothing that’s worn to help people deal with the increasing temperature. Processes need to be efficient as possible to reduce electricity and water usage.
Economists estimate that for every £1 spent on increasing resilience now could yield £4 in damages being avoided. This shows that planning ahead rather than responding reactively will help you to:
- Save your business money in the long term;
- Give your business the best chance to continue to operate and meet customer orders, in spite of the weather and
- Identify possible business opportunities, for example new products or services.
Does your business actually plan for extreme weather events? Can your business stay productive and profitable during, flooding, heat waves, storms and drought?