After mounting pressure from stakeholders and growing evidence that climate really is changing, the stars have aligned — . According to a recent Pew Research poll, citizens in Europe and around the world believe climate is the crisis of ongoing and greatest importance facing our shared planet. By all measures, 2021 is shaping up to be a year of accelerated climate action in the US and around the world.
If business leaders are not already in deep planning mode, they should get ready — fast. A team of business climate experts from Plan C Advisors, a Silverline partner, suggests 5 steps to get started:
#1 Consider all Risks to your Organization
COVID-19 should be a wake-up call to business leaders thinking about climate. Like the pandemic, the early warning signs have been building for decades – mostly ignored or treated too lightly. Every company should be thinking about organizational risk and opportunity planning related to climate. Jupiter Intelligence, a Plan C Advisors partner, helps companies predict the physical impacts of climate and develop risk mitigation strategies by utilizing the latest forward-looking predictive climate analytics models. Beyond physical risks, Plan C Advisor Jennifer Swint advises company leaders to work across leadership to routinely assess the climate-related enterprise-wide risks such as reputation, brand strength, policy goals, employee health and wellbeing, supply chains, and customer loyalty.
#2 Explore Opportunities to Reevaluate Purpose and Create Value
Fortunately, climate change is not just bad news for companies and for our planet. Organizations that understand their Purpose, have a culture of fearless innovation, and act decisively can find opportunities to evolve their products and services and launch new businesses in response to climate challenges. Plan C Advisor Lisa Bougie leverages her career as an executive in the apparel sector, one of the industries under greatest duress from climate factors, to help clients consider creative approaches to climate impacts. For instance, in the apparel sector this includes new business models such as renting vs buying clothing, use of new planet-friendly materials and recycling. Plan C Advisor Celso White draws on his many years with global food and beverage companies to advise clients on rethinking their supply chain operations to increase efficiencies and improve their climate footprint.
#3 Proactively Advance Policy Ideas
The Biden Administration has made clear it is serious about addressing climate change through domestic policy initiatives across the whole of government as well as global leadership and partnerships. Chris Miller, Plan C Advisor and partner at AJW a leading government affairs consultancy, advises corporate leaders to proactively identify and advance policy ideas that align with their business strategies and corporate social responsibility goals, rather than react or defend against initiatives introduced by others. Taking a leadership stance and ensuring a seat at the policy table can drive both business growth and social good.
#4 Disclose, Even with Imperfect Information
Formal disclosures are playing an increasingly important role in climate communications. Plan C Advisors Partner Global Affairs Associates says even if you have imperfect information, and even if not all the news is positive, it is critical that companies disclose climate risk using the TCFD framework, the standard for climate risk disclosure worldwide. Companies should also consider reporting ESG and supplemental climate information using at least one of the standards available for that purpose. For instance, if investors are a critical audience for your organization, using the SASB Standards to disclose would be a good first step. Voluntary disclosures can seem complex and burdensome for businesses, but there are positive signs that this is changing as the voluntary frameworks actively work together toward standardization. In addition, there is reason to expect regulatory guidance in the U.S. with the incoming administration.
#5 Engage Your Entire Organization, Including your Board
No single person or group within a company, no matter how competent, can drive climate action alone. Truly effective and sustained action can only be achieved when climate action is baked into the core Purpose and strategies of the company, and encouraged by its board and executive management team. Every part of the organization must do its part and include input from all voices. Plan C Advisor Tracy Edkins says to effect this kind of organizational transformation language, incentives and compensation must be aligned—not a small task particularly when working with a sprawling, global and fast growing organization as she has in her role as chief people officer in the tech sector. Climate Justice expert and Plan C Advisor, Bee Hui Yeh, emphasizes that all voices must be included to drive climate solutions that are healthy, just and sustainable for all.
Call to action—Readiness Assessment
Fortunately, all signs point to the pace of climate awareness and action rapidly accelerating in 2021, particularly as the Biden Administration takes office. This is the year for all business leaders to ensure they have a plan in place to address climate throughout their organizations. Plan C Advisors can get you started with an initial diagnostic to assess organizational readiness and recommend priority next steps. Please reach out to Amanda North at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.