SMALL BUSINESS CLIMATE RESILIENCE SERIES PART 1: KNOW YOUR RISK
By Kate Galbo, Programs Manager
With meteorologists anticipating a very active Atlantic hurricane season this year, climate change is quickly transforming from a distant forethought to an impending reality. On top of that, 2017 is on track to be the second-hottest year on record. A report by the city of Boston projects there may be as many as 40 days per year over 90 degrees by 2030, and 90 by 2070 – nearly the entire summer.
Rising seas pose a serious, yet often overlooked threat to businesses in coastal communities. Global sea levels rose by 9 inches over the course of the 20th century, but this century they are expected to rise another 8 inches by 2030 alone. For reference, Copley Square in downtown Boston currently lies at just 7.5 feet above sea level.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Army Corps of Engineers project that a major storm is likely to hit the coast of Massachusetts within the next six years, potentially flooding the city with storm surges of 5 to 6 feet. Such an event would be economically devastating to the Massachusetts coastline, with 4.2 million Massachusetts residents living within 10 miles of the coast, comprising 66% of the state’s total population.
There is a way to decrease risk: enhance your business’s resilience. In 2016, CABA launched our Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign to educate the local business community about sea level rise and extreme weather. The 10-week campaign distributed information about climate adaptation and strategies to increase climate preparedness within the business community. Each business received a resilience guide consisting of eight straightforward steps a business could take to increase their resiliency. With extreme weather looming and extreme heat already on the rise, enhancing climate resilience is smart business planning.
First, being aware of potential risks to climate change will enable greater resilience through business efficiency. Do you know your risks from climate change? It is important to be aware of the direct impacts climate change could pose to your business assets and operations. Look at local flood maps and locate your building to determine your susceptibility to floods.
After gaining an understanding of the risks climate change poses, it is important to evaluate your infrastructure and supply chain. Certain parts of infrastructure may be more at risk than others. For example, if your basement is susceptible to flooding, it should not be used to store items that could be damaged by standing water.
Operations redundancy is also crucial to ensuring secure access to your supply. Redundancy is a measure of security that ensures continuous operations. There are three basic things that any business needs in order to operate: supply, inventory on hand, and the ability to reach the customer. In this case, redundancy means having more than one way to ensure that you have secured supply and delivery, because if you only have a relationship with one supplier, your operations will be at risk if they suffer business interruptions, which can be caused by climate change impacts.
This blog post is part of our Small Business Climate Resilience Series to help small businesses prepare for the impacts of climate change. Tune in next week to learn how to develop an emergency business plan or read more about our BARS campaign.
About the author: Kate Galbo joined CABA in September of 2015 after receiving a degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis from Boston University. Previously, she conducted research for Policy Studies Institute to help bridge the gap between sustainable development research and society. Kate has previously interned for other Massachusetts non-profit organizations. As Programs Manager, Kate focuses on engaging with our member businesses to take targeted policy action, achieve meaningful emissions reductions, and foster a sense of community.