That is the conclusion of new research by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which conducted a poll of UK FTSE 100 companies as part of its Insight into Climate Change Adaptation by UK companies report.

It found that while 80% of respondents had identified substantial risks to their business from climate change, just 46% said they had plans in place to protect against.

However, the report concludes that for businesses, “risks and opportunities are strongly linked, adding that many new business risks can also be seen as opportunities because there is a possibility of gaining competitive advantage through better strategic planning.

As a result, environment minister Lord Taylor has called on investors and shareholders to keep pressure on their business interests, in a bid to help them prepare for climate change and sustain long-term growth.

He said: “Investors that want to keep share prices high must stress the need for action to prepare for climate change. They can provide an incentive to businesses to not only consider the long-term risks of climate change, but also the opportunities that can be grasped now.

“UK businesses have the skills, knowledge and expertise to be world leaders in creating solutions to climate risks. But while many firms are beginning to appreciate these opportunities for growth, much more needs to be done if UK firms are to maintain a competitive edge over their rivals. Businesses need to think how climate change could affect their operation and make robust plans to protect themselves.”

In addition, Defra, which commissioned the CDP study, also released a summary of actions taken by major infrastructure firms and other key organisations to protect water and energy networks from the impacts of climate change.

Lord Taylor added: “The actions these firms take to protect infrastructure in the coming years will go a long way to deciding how the UK copes with climate change. We want to work with infrastructure companies and businesses as we develop the National Adaptation Programme which will set out the actions everyone needs to take to prepare for climate change.”

Carys Matthews

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