Globally, 2020 saw the warmest September on record, and the year as a whole is projected to be the warmest ever recorded in Europe. After many thousands of years of relative stability, it’s clear the climate on Earth is now changing as a result of human activity. The average temperature across the planet has risen by 1.14 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, predominantly due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions into the atmosphere. CO2 levels have risen more than 40% since the Industrial Revolution and are higher now than at any time in the last 800,000 years.
As we see every day in the news and media, the impact of global warming is being felt worldwide. Rising sea levels, melting polar glaciers, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and shifting seasons for vegetation and land animal movements are amongst the most prevalent effects. Here in Europe we’re seeing a greater number of heat waves and droughts in southern and central areas, more flooding in the north of the region, and heat waves and flooding events in urban areas across the entire continent.
Climate change is affecting society, the economy and communities across the globe. Increasingly, businesses are considering the impacts of climate change to ensure they are prepared to respond in appropriate ways. Businesses are assessing a number of risks, including physical: the impact of extreme weather events, or supply shortages from water scarcity, for example; transition risks from society’s response such as changes in technologies, markets and regulation; and potential liabilities for emitting greenhouse gases caused by business activities.
A survey conducted by Deloitte last year of almost 1,200 financial executives from European companies found that most are feeling pressure to act on climate change from a variety of stakeholders including their employees, regulators and investors. Of the larger companies surveyed, 70% of CFOs reported feeling pressure from their customers to act.
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According to McKinsey, companies need to take climate considerations into account when looking at capital allocation, development of products or services, and supply-chain management, amongst other things. This will require a change in mindset, new operating models, and tools and processes to integrate climate risk into decision making.
One way companies are able to better manage risks from climate change is by using location intelligence – that is, visualisation and analysis of spatially-oriented data to enable smarter understanding, insight, decision making and prediction. Earlier this year research firm Forresternamed Esri’s ArcGIS Platform as a leader in climate risk analytics, noting robust data, analytics and visualisation capabilities together with a large ecosystem of strategic partners, client services and R&D staff. These capabilities provide companies with a robust solution for understanding risks and enabling strategies to mitigate them.
Location intelligence has enabled scientists at the University of Hawaii to develop an app that analyses and predicts the occurrence of hazards as a result of future greenhouse gas emissions, based on three increasingly severe scenarios. In the business as usual scenario shown below, significant cumulative hazards including droughts, fires, floods and sea level rise will likely be experienced across major swathes of the globe in the coming decades, highlighting the urgent need for mitigating action.
The app is available for business executives and individuals to explore how climate change could affect locations around the world over the next 80 years.
By providing a long term view of potential hazards, business leaders can be better prepared when setting strategies such as altering supply chains or changing manufacturing locations, to manage and mitigate climate risks that could affect their organisation. Without a spatial view, the potential impacts are much harder to visualise.
As McKinsey stated in their report, for centuries society has been used to making decisions based on a world of relative climate stability. Globally businesses are not accustomed to planning for a world with a changing climate, and are looking for tools, strategies and expertise to support them. Location intelligence provides leaders with the capabilities and toolset to plan and make more effective decisions, ultimately leading to more sustainable outcomes and a more optimistic future for our planet.
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