The Earth is in a climate crisis, making protection of the environment a pressing responsibility for everyone, including businesses.
With the government increasing legislation regarding the environment and consumers demanding more ethical and resourceful behaviour from companies, the challenges ahead are great and varied.
But without adapting to change, many businesses could find themselves facing extinction.
- Threats to the environment also pose threats to businesses
- Businesses must adapt to respond to today’s challenges and prepare for future problems
- Businesses don’t have to navigate these challenges alone – help is available to guide their environmental & sustainability strategy
What environmental challenges are businesses facing?
#1. Climate change
Across the globe, severe weather conditions, natural disasters and threatened resources have long had an impact on humans. But such events are becoming increasingly common, and closer to home.
In the UK, there have been recent warnings that storms, droughts and high temperatures are becoming the new normal.
According to weather experts at the Met Office, winters will be warmer and wetter while summer heatwaves are projected to happen every other year by 2050. And as our climate continues to change, many areas of the world will become uninhabitable, prompting human migration. So-called climate refugees are already suffering the impact of climate change, including victims of coastal erosion in the UK.
Climate change is an issue threatening human habitats and our quality of life. But it is also disruptive from a business perspective. Raw materials, transport, energy and workers could all be impacted by global warming.
Businesses must not only respond to climate change issues today, but must prepare for developments expected in the future. Climate change is not going away, our only hope is to try to slow it down and limit its impact.
Once upon a time, our air, land, rivers and seas were clean and free of nasty effluents. But human activity – and business activity in particular – has eroded the quality of our environment.
Industries such as energy and agriculture are among the worst culprits, with factories and refineries sending greenhouse gases into the air and leaking poisonous substances into the land and water. Our water companies have been found to be regularly pumping raw sewage into the sea, while the ubiquitous use of plastic by companies has even led to traces being discovered in human blood, as well as polluting oceans.
Businesses have a responsibility, alongside the rest of us, to embrace sustainability and drastically cut down on pollutants.
Even though we are currently experiencing an economic crisis, our average standard of living is better than that of many previous generations.
But we have become consumers rather than citizens, constantly receiving advertising messages through the media and social media, which leads us to regularly buy goods and services we likely don’t need. We have also succumbed to trends such as fast fashion, where goods are produced cheaply, worn for a season, then discarded.
This has led to an enormous accumulation of waste, including litter and wasted resources. But gradually, as warnings of the damage we have done to the environment continue to grow, we are learning to become more resourceful and less wasteful in our daily lives.
We therefore expect businesses to pay the same respect to the environment. Consumers now expect businesses to recycle where possible and to seek less wasteful alternatives in their processes.
As well as becoming less wasteful, we need businesses to act in ways that are sustainable for the planet. This includes reviewing their activities and identifying potential changes which do far less harm to the planet and may even be of benefit to the environment.
#5. Environmental legislation
The UK government is already working to its net zero target and introduced legislation that gives businesses a strong message that they are expected to play their part, or be punished.
As climate change develops, further legislation is highly likely to put businesses under increasing pressure to act in the best interests of the environment and hit their sustainability targets.
Most would agree that action is needed by businesses to reduce environmental damage and many businesses have incorporated this into their corporate policies. But this also brings financial challenges.
A business’s main aim is to make profit. Drastic changes to processes, sourcing renewable energy and alternative raw materials can prove costly causing business owners to be wary of investment into sustainable practices.
Listen to our training experts discuss how your business can become more sustainable, in our green skills podcast
What are the solutions for businesses?
Businesses must strike the right balance in order to protect the environment, reduce their carbon footprint and survive themselves. To do this, they need the buy-in of their management teams, employees, partners and other stakeholders. One person alone cannot steer a company to achieve both sustainability and financial success.
This is where TSW Training can help. Our range of IEMA sustainability courses can drive a company’s staff to work together to achieve shared goals concerning the environment and give businesses the expertise and knowledge needed to reduce carbon emissions and support the journey towards net zero and green transition.
Awareness training and courses providing more information on laws and regulations not only educates employees in a company but encourages them to increase their individual and combined efforts, giving them the power to make change happen.
Explore our range of IEMA courses & training programmes we offer to help you get your team up to speed.
- IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills For The Workforce – a one-day entry level course designed as a starting point for every worker in your business.
- IEMA Environmental Sustainability Skills For Managers – this two-day course is a strategic and operational environmental course for managers and supervisors to discover the implications of environmental sustainability.
- IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management – five-day course that is more in-depth, designed to improve your business’ resilience, productivity and mobility and most importantly, inject green skills into your workforce.
- IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management – 15 day course that is the perfect professional development qualification for those working in organisations at an operational level and pursuing a career path in environment and sustainability.
- IEMA Pathways to Net Zero – is a 2-day course, perfect for those who are taking their first step into the world of sustainability.