Climate change has been impacting how we live and think about our future for some time now and is felt in almost every aspect of our lives. From the way we eat and prepare our meals, the products we purchase, the means by which we travel from place to place, and the decisions we make within our local and national governments – the list goes on and on.
These impacts are important to identify and also answer the following questions:
- How can we combat the effects of climate change within our EHS programs to prevent further risk and damage to operations and business security?
- How can we better understand these impacts to predict the future problems they may lead to?
- What do these impacts tell us about what’s to come and how can we be better prepared?
EHS professionals are significantly impacted by climate change and the connection between EHS and ESG and Sustainability has never been stronger. In this article, we’ll review five ways climate change impacts EHS management programs as well as some additional things to keep in mind. The following impacts may vary in importance depending on the specific industry, location, and organization, however, these are typically considered the most significant.
The Impact of Climate Change on EHS
- Increased frequency and severity of natural disasters: Climate change leads to more frequent and intense natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and heatwaves, which can disrupt operations and damage facilities. This can increase the need for emergency response planning and preparedness within EHS programs.
- Changes in air quality: Climate change is leading to air pollution caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases, which can negatively impact human health and the environment.
- Water scarcity: Climate change is leading to changes in water availability, including decreased supplies and increased competition for water resources. This can increase the need for water conservation and management.
- Spread of disease: Climate change can lead to changes in disease patterns and the spread of new infections, increasing the need for employee health and safety measures within an organization.
- Supply chain disruptions: Climate change can disrupt supply chains, causing shortages of raw materials and products which impacts the availability of essential supplies and resources.
- Changes in occupational health and safety: Climate change can lead to changes in working conditions, including higher temperatures, more extreme weather events, and increased exposure to environmental toxins.
- Changes in energy demand and supply: Climate change can lead to changes in energy demand and supply, as well as increased pressure to shift towards more sustainable energy sources.
- Increased regulations and scrutiny: Climate change leads to increased government regulations and public scrutiny of corporate environmental practices.
Although the priority of these impacts will vary depending on the specific context and the organization, their consequences impact everyone. Moving towards a more sustainable future and battling the climate crisis is only possible with continued education on the matter and major shifts in the way we live our lives and conduct our businesses. Understanding these impacts and investing in the right tools to address them, such as sustainability management software, is the difference between a battle well fought and a battle won.