Emma Peardon

What’s the link between climate change and running a business?


Water shortage. Fuel droughts. Rising oceans. The impacts of climate change are evident in our natural environment, but will have an increasingly widespread effect on how we run businesses.

As we profiled in a recent infographic, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) ‘Workforce of the Future’ report outlines many paths that business growth will take in the next 15 years. But one aspect we didn’t cover was how climate change will force an evolution in the business sphere.

Climate change’s impact on industries of the future

A report from the US Director of National Intelligence suggests that by 2030, demand for energy will increase by 50 per cent. Over the same period, the figures for food and water will increase by 35 and 40 per cent respectively. Driven by a rapid rise in consumption and climate change affecting resources, this shift will have massive ramifications for all industries.

Climate change impacts go far beyond the environment.Climate change impacts go far beyond the environment.

In particular, PwC believes the following sectors will boom:

  • Alternative energy generation, supply and storage.
  • Forward-thinking engineering.
  • Waste management (in particular re-use or recycling)
  • Product design.

Additionally, PwC expects a fast and all-encompassing restructure of traditional energy sectors. The first wave of this is already underway locally – Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that expenditure in our mining sector still sits well below the peaks of 2011 and 2012.

All of which is to say that climate change is introducing new priorities and growth sectors – but how does this affect businesses?

Climate change and business: The link is in the thinking

A recurring theme in the climate change impacts is that we can no longer plan for tomorrow by looking at yesterday. These changes and the subsequent resource scarcity will meet levels that the world has never seen before – unprecedented problems necessitate unprecedented solutions.

How will climate change influence the way you lead a business?How will climate change influence the way you lead a business?

Businesses’ future-proofing under climate change must extend beyond reduced emissions and environmentally-friendly practices. Consider the very infrastructure on which your organisation is built. When fuel, water, energy and food transform, how does that affect the company’s day-to-day functionality?

The change will also occur at a legislative level. It seems reasonable to expect public sector organisations like the National Energy Productivity Plan, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Emissions Reduction Fund to gain greater powers and introduce new incentives for organisations that meet certain criteria.

Think bigger than the bottom line. The fabric of our business landscape will change due to climate change, and the leaders who anticipate the ways it will morph are those who will succeed.