CHANGE & ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS FOR BUSINESS

Dr. (Prof.) Saudamini Das

(This lecture was delivered by Prof. Das on October 11, 2018 during the inauguration event of BizGeist Volume 1, Issue 1)

Through the medium of this lecture, I would like to discuss the rapid amount of Climate Change that has been taking place since the past two decades and also impress upon the ways in which this concerns businesses all over the globe. The drastic changes in the climate are a result of human activities like industrialisation and growth in technology. Among the many consequences of this, temperature change is one of the most prominent ones. Land and sea temperatures have risen dramatically, resulting in rising sea levels. According UN reports (dated 8th October, 2018), Earth has 12 years to avert climate change catastrophe. Climate change has also led to an increase in the number of disasters; 2000s saw a risen amount of natural calamities as compared to the previous decades. It should be noted that  the greater the number of calamities, the greater is its impact on the economy.

Image result for environmental concerns
Image Source: http://www.conserve-energy-future.com

Talking about the consequences for business, changes in climate poses several risks. Extreme temperatures can highly impact the workforce. Natural disasters can be catastrophic to businesses. Over the past decade, the general costs of running a business have increased in terms of energy, water usage and waste management. The availability of raw materials has also degraded. In some cases, climate change even forces a business to relocate. Some firms are under greater threat, for example the agriculture and the food products industry. Shortages are caused by severe drought, flooding, hurricane damage, etc. However, just like there are two sides to a coin, climate change offers opportunities that businesses can harness for their benefit. For one, there are new sources of adaptation financing and risk transfer mechanisms like carbon credits. Governments have come up with policies and financial support for adjusting to new climates. If a company cares for the climate, it enjoys improved reputation and there is possibility of competitive advantage. Even customers have started coming up with demands for eco-friendly, new products and services. Nevertheless, business firms must take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.  The technique of carbon capping should be adopted. The concept of ‘green building’, i.e., reducing energy use is gaining popularity among the firms. Firms should always choose to use clean fuel and sustainable energy sources. For example, going for solar or wind energy over coal and petroleum. Firms can also invest in renewable sources of energy.

Since majority of my audience is students, I would like to suggest some ways in which you can help. Some of them being skipping bottled water, buying a coffee tumbler, bringing your own grocery bags, ditching the paper towels, going to the library, using public transport, etc. These small steps can impact and help the society in paramount ways.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Prof. Saudamini Das is NABARD Chair Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth. She is also a Fellow of South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), Kathmandu and had worked as Mälar scholar at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, during 2011-12. Her research areas are Climate change adaptation, assessment of loss and damage to livelihood due to climate change, valuation of ecosystem services, coastal vulnerability analysis, and evaluation of public policy. 

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