On Wednesday, May 20th, we had our first Webinar Wednesday of the Spring! We were happy to have Susan Todd from Solstice Sustainability Works Inc. provide attendees information about getting financial leaders on board with sustainability actions and how to talk to leaders about incorporating sustainability into its operations. If you’ve been curious about how to make the case for sustainability to your leaders, keep reading to learn more!

Here are 5 key takeaways from this webinar to convince your financial leaders to take a more sustainable business approach:

1. Climate change is a business issue:

In recent years, the effect of climate change has caused business costs to trend upward because of more instances of natural disasters such as ice storms, floods, and forest fires. Insurers have been sounding the alarms for years that the cost of insurance premiums is rising because of increasing natural disasters. This means that insurance claims could double in the next 10 years. Take a look at the graph below for the upward trend of the costs of associated with natural disasters in loss and claim adjustment expenses by insurance companies over the recent years:

Graph provided by: IBC Facts Book 2018

And remember, there is a cost of doing nothing. Even if your physical business isn’t damaged, costs go up in terms of premiums that organizations pay in their insurance coverage. 

Aiming to be a more sustainable organization isn’t all about assets and property, though. Often enough, an organization’s greatest assets are its people. However, productivity is falling because of the increase in work-related heat stress, which can have a productivity loss in an equivalent of 80 million jobs worldwide. Organizations can play a part to reduce heat stress caused by climate change by creating more sustainable processes within. 

2. Finance Sector and Investors are engaged:

For the first time in 2019, the annual Bank of Canada report identified that climate change plays a role in the vulnerability in the economy and financial system. For example, real estate companies that have homes in coastal areas may have their assets go down in valuations because of the potential that natural disasters could potentially hit these homes. Financial leaders need to reassess risk and asset values associated with climate change to put risk forward. To do this, companies and leaders everywhere can create a task force on climate-related financial disclosures with:

  • Governance: How the organization will handle climate-related risks and opportunities?
  • Strategy: How will the potential impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities affect the organization’s business, strategy, and financial planning?
  • Risk Management: Develop and use processes created by the organization to properly identify, assess, and manage climate-related risks
  • Metrics and Targets: Determine what metrics and targets that will be used to assess and manage climate-related risks and opportunities

3. Climate Change Presents Risks and Opportunities for your Organization

If companies don’t change and stick with their old processes and products that aren’t sustainable, they can miss out on new growth opportunities.

However, companies that are on the leading edge of creating products that help the environment and can also help other companies get out of “dirty” industries.

Take a look at the risks from the perspective of the West Vancouver Municipality to learn how climate change impacts their valuable ecosystem services: 

Information provided by the District of West Vancouver

4. There Are Strategies for Managing Climate Change

But how can we tackle climate change within an organization? Companies need to be willing to mitigate and adapt

Organizations can mitigate the effects of climate change by:

  • Reduce overall organization energy use
  • Reduce embodied energy in inputs
  • Reduce waste
  • Switch to renewable energy sources
  • Increase carbon sinks
  • Set an internal shadow price for carbon
  • Apply an internal carbon tax on operating expenses
  • Set targets and track progress
  • Implement accounting and reporting processes 

Organizations can adapt to managing climate change by:

  • Including climate change in enterprise risk management policies
  • Practice scenario planning for various climate emergencies that a company could face domestically and internationally
  • Subscribe to weather services to keep up with how the climate is changing in the organization’s area
  • Develop an adaptation plan
  • Reduce vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change
  • And as always, take advantage of any opportunities to improve your organization’s footprint for the greater good.

5. How to Plan Now

Without global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to North American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth in the future. You can plan for now by:

  • Enhancing your business strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change
  • Make smarter long term investments in greener solutions
  • Build capacity
  • Reassure investors and stakeholders

With some of this new knowledge of how to talk to your leaders about sustainability, your organization can begin to mitigate and adapt to the risks that come with climate change. Want to learn more about sustainability? Keep up with our blog and events page to learn about future Webinar Wednesdays.