Climate change poses both threats and opportunities to business in the Midlands

As well as the negative impacts of climate change, businesses in the Midlands are also considering the opportunities of global warming, according to a new Government-backed report into the impacts of climate change in the Midlands.

The study, which is being co-ordinated by Severn Trent Water and the Midlands Environmental Business Club, is examining the effects in Warwickshire, Shropshire, the West Midlands, the Black Country, and Worcestershire, and is one of a series of regional studies backed by the Government as part of its Climate Impacts Programme (CIP). This particular study, however, is the only one to examine the impacts and opportunities for business, as well as the wider environmental issues.

Climate change research shows that weather patterns are changing in the Midlands, with winter rainfall increasing alongside an increase in short and intense storms. Summers are becoming warmer and drier. “The flooding of last autumn aside, the environmental impacts are already apparent, with insects active earlier, and trees in leaf sooner,” said John Firth of Severn Trent Water. “But businesses too need to understand what the implications are for them, and also how they may be able to create opportunities within the changing natural and business environment as a result.”

There are opportunities within a number of industries, a Severn Trent spokesperson explained to edie, such as the possible benefits to the agriculture sector of an increase in the growing season. Another case is in the ceramic industry, where, for example, a carpet company in Kidderminster intends to diversify into floor tiles in order to counter the predicted move away from carpets due to warmer weather.

“Our early work suggests there may be opportunities for automotive, ceramics, tourism, and agricultural industries among others,” said Firth. “But equally there may be challenges to traditional automotive industries, and for employers who need to address changing working conditions. And, of course, there will be wider environmental impacts that we also need to assess, mitigate and then adapt to.”

The study’s co-ordinators are still seeking feedback from companies across the Midlands before they can complete the final report. According to Firth, climate change needs to be faced by all aspects of society, but could be a make or break issue for businesses in the long term. “Our work will hopefully mean more make than break,” he said.

A report assessing the results of the study will be published later on in the summer, with a regional conference scheduled for the autumn. The study’s final report will be published next year.

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