The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRT) has just released a three-report series titled Facing the Elements: Building Business Resilience in a Changing Climate. This is the fifth report in the Climate Prosperity series by the NRT that emphasizes the critical, yet largely unexplored role of Canadian business in defining our ability to prosper in a changing climate.

Since 1988, the NRT has been Canada’s leader in fostering a stronger relationship between the environment and the economy. Its recent works are in areas as diverse as Climate Change Prosperity, Water Sustainability, Life-Cycle approaches to Sustainable Development, and Biodiversity.

Despite the pro-active work of the NRT since 1988, the federal government recently announced in its Budget that the NRT will be eliminated as of March 31, 2013. Notwithstanding this news, the NRT continues to release groundbreaking reports that outline the importance of better addressing climate change in Canada, among other topics.

Here is a snippet of its recent report Facing the Elements: Building Business Resilience in a Changing Climate:

“Climate change means business. And businesses are already on the frontline of climate change. The effects of more volatile weather and gradual changes in climate conditions will touch all facets of Canadian business in the decades to come. Despite growing awareness of the risks and opportunities that changing climate presents, few firms are adjusting business strategies and practices to adapt to this inevitable reality. Canada’s future economic prosperity relies on the continued resilience of Canadian business in a changing climate. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRT) has spent more than a year considering how we can act and adapt – business and government together – to prosper through climate change”

As written by NRT President and CEO, David McLaughlin, “Climate change impacts are inevitable. Planning for those impacts makes good business and government sense. Starting now will save time and money later. It’s time to face the elements and withstand them. We hope our work will start real conversations in Canada that are long overdue”.

The three-series report consists of an Advisory Report to government and business, a Business Primer targeted toward the business community, and a Case Studies report which is a collection of company case studies presenting “successes, challenges, and lessons from thirteen Canadian and international pacesetters who are already adapting to climate change”.

ACT recognizes the indispensable role of the business community in helping Canada transition into a more climate resilient society. To achieve this, however, is going to require clear thinking about how adapting to climate change makes ‘business sense’ for the betterment of all Canadians. As argued in the NRT report, the capacity and actions by businesses to adapt to the impacts of changing climate conditions – both average and extreme – will shape Canada’s future economic prosperity.

The business community has systemic barriers to adaptation such as a focus on quarterly performance, which weakens incentives to plan ahead and invest in long-term measures. The report suggests these challenges can be overcome with sensible planning and clear thinking. The report places a strong emphasis on building risk management frameworks within the business community. Risk management, can, inter alia, help businesses assess the costs and benefits of acting now as opposed to in the future.

The PDF Advisory Report is available online.

Written by ACT researcher Timothy Shah