London businesses not prepared for climate change risks

London must do more to prepare for climate change if it is to effectively manage risk and seize opportunities emerging from the UK’s growing adaptation sector said a new report “Weathering the storm: The impact of climate change on London’s economy”.

Produced by the London Assembly Economic Committee the report calls on London Mayor Boris Johnson to do more to support London and businesses through a series of recommendations including integrating climate change resilience into his economic development strategy. “This would commit him to drive forward a resilient, low carbon economy; develop London’s adaptation skills base; encourage adaptation innovation; and attract and incentivise public and private investment in the adaptation sector,” said the report.

"Small and medium enterprises are particularly unlikely to have taken steps to prepare for the risk of climate change: evidence suggests 60 per cent have no plan in place to deal with extreme weather conditions."

London Assembley Economic Committee

The committee pointed to research by the Committee on Climate Change which highlighted that sales of adaptation goods and services by UK companies have grown in recent years and was worth £431million in London from firms providing key adaptation goods and services such as flood protection and resilience measures, professional services including architecture and engineering, and finance and insurance products.

But it warned that the sector remains small and sales by UK companies appear to have grown more slowly than those of competitors in other countries. Japan, Russia, France, US, Brazil, Italy and Germany all demonstrated stronger growth it said.

At the same time the research highlighted a lack of preparation among London’s businesses and stated that 54% of FTSE 100 firms have not built climate change adaptation into their business strategy or continuity planning. “Furthermore, small and medium enterprises are particularly unlikely to have taken steps to prepare for the risk of climate change: evidence suggests 60 per cent have no plan in place to deal with extreme weather conditions. The adaptation strategies which SMEs have put in place, some as a result of work through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), rarely take into account the wider vulnerabilities of global supply chains and investments,” said the report.

One of the reasons for this is a lack of understanding over future impacts on London from said the report which called on the London Climate Change Partnership to map the vulnerabilities of London to climate change issues in supply chain markets. It also said that businesses in sectors found to be most vulnerable should then be assisted in creating their own supply chain maps.

Ahead of the Paris climate change conference in early December the committee said that it was critical that London and its businesses develop a far-sighted, risk-based, adaptation plan to safeguard the future economy. It also welcomed recent commitments made by the Mayor at a meeting of European mayors in Paris, in March, to strengthen the instruments that will lead us toward the energy and environmental transition.

It also said that his statement of support for environmental policies which stimulate London’s low carbon goods and services economy shows clear leadership in the climate change arena. “As Paris approaches it is critical that the Mayor continues to be active in promoting these commitments, and that he broadens the scope of his environmental policies to ensure adaptation is an integral element. This will ensure London continues to establish itself clearly as a world leader in the race to combat climate change,” it said.


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We (Innovate UK) provided evidence and input in to this report which is freely available - look for Design for Future Climate. We funded 45 project teams to develop adaptation strategies for a wide range of buildings considering the weather now and up to 2100. The project reports are all freely available along with a framework guide on how and what to consider and our legacy report on what is the business case for adaptation. This examines the drivers and business opportunities in depth. We launched this report with Antony's help in June this year.
Thanks Mark. Details of the Innovate report on the business case for adaptation is found here: