Partners in Project Green: The Impacts of Climate Change on BusinessJune 13, 2023
Written by Julia Kole, Coordinator for Partners in Project Green
Each year, reports of record-breaking temperatures, heatwaves, forest fires, floods and droughts dominate news headlines around the world. These events cause major disruptions impacting business operations here in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.
The team at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Partners in Project Green (PPG) created the Building a Climate Resilient Business Resource Kit to help businesses across the GTA understand the impacts of climate change on their operations. In our first blog with the OCC, we shared an overview of basic foundations of climate change science that present risks to business operations. The next section in our Resource Kit identifies the impacts of climate change on business.
The increase in temperature and extreme heat days in Ontario will impact human health and well-being. Employees in a variety of industries are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat-related illnesses and dangers, including those working in the agriculture and construction industries. High humidity can send the human body into medical distress, especially during extremely hot days when employees are working outside or in unconditioned buildings.
Extreme weather events, changes in air and water quality and other factors like food and financial security will also impact employee mental health and well-being. Businesses will need to ensure they have sufficient support programs, effective health and safety procedures and climate-controlled infrastructure to ensure their employees stay safe.
Climate change will impact buildings and infrastructure where major weather risks include flooding, windstorms, tornadoes, and extreme heat. The occurrence of these events can cause significant structural damage to buildings and infrastructure, put people’s lives at risk, incur unexpected or increase expenses and insurance premiums and disrupt supply chains.
Extreme weather can result in the delayed transport of goods and resources. A single shock to production, like a major windstorm knocking out power for a prolonged period, could significantly impact business earnings. Climate change has implications for how physical assets are managed and maintained as well as how they are designed, developed and insured in the future.
There will be many changes in farming operations as climate change impacts agriculture and food security. While an increase in temperature will create conditions for a growing season in Ontario that could extend by an additional 2 months, the variability in precipitation and extreme heat days will negatively affect crop yield, species tolerance and livestock well-being.
Warmer and more humid conditions will create a climate for more pests and diseases which will impact yield, expenses, pricing and the overall health of crops and livestock. This can result in potential food insecurity both here in Canada and abroad to nations that import food from Ontario. Businesses in the agricultural industry and their supply chains must be prepared for both opportunities and risks of a changing growing season as it will impact their operations and finances.
The long-term physical changes in the Earth’s climate present significant risks that will have financial and regulatory impacts. Businesses who want to promote their environmentally conscious operations and avoid greenwashing should be confident their claims are honest and backed up by sufficient data. Government regulations are increasing in number and in greenhouse gas emission limitations. The additional costs of compliance or severe financial penalties for non-compliance must be considered in operational and budget planning.
Due to the greenhouse gas emission impacts of human activity, climate-dependent economic systems, such as agriculture and infrastructure development will be strained and stressed as the climate changes. Understanding the effects of climate change can help businesses identify the potential risks for their facilities and operations as well as prioritize actions needed to reduce those risks.
Explore our Building a Climate Resilient Business Resource Kit, or visit our website to learn more about our upcoming workshops, events and webinars. Contact, Julia Kole, Coordinator for Partners in Project Green at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments you may have about your business’ sustainability journey.
Photo caption: Climate Change impacts industries like agriculture, creating new risks such as increased droughts, extreme heat days, pests and food insecurity. Photo courtesy of Julia Kole.