Despite record-breaking heatwaves, droughts and floods, only a fifth (20%) of UK businesses are actively making changes to account for climate change, according to research from DTN.
The company surveyed UK business leaders across multiple sectors to evaluate their current and near-term strategy for weather impacts due to climate change. While only a fifth are currently prepared for the impacts of extreme weather, reassuringly more than a third (39%) of businesses have started to think about the future changes they need to implement to account for extreme weather.
Renny Vandewege, vice president, global commercial at DTN, said, “With more than half of businesses in the UK acknowledging climate impacts as a strategic consideration, the need for robust, industry-specific weather intelligence is becoming more critical. As extreme weather is increasingly becoming common, the time to integrate and utilize the analytics for planning and response is now.”
Businesses cited winter snow and/or ice storms (39%), flooding (39%), and extreme heat (36%) as their top concerns. For these companies, power cuts, workflow disruptions for employees and customer service interruptions all tied as top threats to day-to-day operations. The emphasis on these near-term effects indicate a potential gap in prioritizing and planning for longer-term impacts related to supply chain disruption and infrastructure damage.
This is despite the fact that the impacts of extreme weather have been noted as a threat to supply chains as far back as 2017 according to the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report. Scientific studies show that extreme weather is becoming more frequent and intense and the toll of extreme weather on businesses of all sizes and sectors is only just beginning.
Disruption around sourcing materials, goods production and stock transportation is set to become more commonplace: unusually high and now low water levels along the Rhine impacting delivery of goods, and unexpected floods and high heat in 2022 damaging power stations and buckling UK transportation infrastructures like rail, roads and airstrips.
The survey found that nearly a third of the businesses (28%) reported having an updated business continuity plan in place; and 32% admit that their contingency plan is a year or more out of date. Of the respondents who have not made changes to account for climate change, nearly a fifth (17%) cited lack of budget and information as barriers to improving planning efforts.
“The trend toward adoption of internal and external data for better risk decisions is absolutely helping businesses across all sectors to put themselves in a stronger position to navigate these emerging climate and weather threats,” Vandewege noted. “Partnering with weather experts, such as risk communicators who understand both the weather science and how it can affect industry-specific operations, helps leaders with the necessary context needed for confident continuity planning.”