Businesses debate whether to shape the future or adapt to coming changes

A lively debate over whether we should try to forestall climate change by reducing emissions or accept it as an irreversible reality and prepare for the worst it can throw at us was at the heart of a conference looking at business and the environment.

Climate change was at the top of the agenda at Business in the Community's National Environment Conference in Bradford on Thursday, June 02.

The conference was attended by a number of big names including Sir John Harman, chairman of the Environment Agency, and Helen Young, the BBC's head weather presenter.

Both told delegates there was a wealth of scientific argument that showed it was within their own best interests to minimize their impact on the environment while exploring the opportunities presented by a changing climate.

According to the Met Office's Hadley Centre, the sizzling heat wave of 2003 could become the norm within our lifetimes while one in four industrial sites is currently in a flood risk area, with the number of people at high risk of flooding in Britain expected to more than double to almost 3.5 million by 2080.

BT's futurologist Ian Pearson outlined his vision for the rest of the 21st century and his belief that new technology offered the best hope for tackling environmental problems.

An enthusiastic debate featuring panelists from both the private and public sector argued whether adapting the business to climate change was a more critical issue than mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Both before and after the debate, a significant majority of the audience, comprised of a range of professionals from companies of all sizes across the UK, agreed that mitigation is the more business critical issue.

Jim Haywood, director of Business in the Community's green wing Business in the Environment, said: "Climate change is clearly a big issue with serious implications for business.

"It's easy to be daunted by the size of the challenge, or assume that action can be put off until tomorrow.

"But this conference has shown that many companies are taking the issue seriously and taking action now to help combat climate change."

By Sam Bond



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