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Climate change: the communications imperative

WHEN HURRICANE KATRINA STRUCK the town of New Orleans in the US, in 2005, a major energy company found its operations base under water. As a large automated business, it had a back-up system.  This also flooded and the whole company was out of action for a week at a cost of $800m.

No such risk had been mentioned in the financial accounts. However, the company had declared this possibility during the previous five years to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a database capturing company and city climate risk for investors and customers.

A key challenge for organisations in the developed world is to understand: how they can identify and quantify the impact of their actions and how they can tackle the SDGs. An important step is to develop internal reporting procedures, understanding what is going on and what impact they are having on the world around them — learning what their reality is.

“Remarkably, many companies don’t even know that,” Jackson said. “They need help to understand the impacts of their own activities.”

Communications are also critical in retaining and attracting staff. How can companies tell the story of who they are, what they are doing and why they are making a difference? Prospective employees are questioning the integrity and sustainable credentials of companies they are considering applying to. Existing employees are wondering what they can do daily to make the world more sustainable?’

In some countries, such as the UK, there are signs of a philosophical shift. Those who think climate change is the most important issue, and those who don’t.  The former understand and see the economic arguments for leadership, especially in areas of technology. For example, in energy and transport, leaders tend to have better understanding of the potential for growth.

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