What Climate Change Means for Your Brand and Bottom Line

January 21, 2016 Comments Off on What Climate Change Means for Your Brand and Bottom LineComments Off on What Climate Change Means for Your Brand and Bottom Line

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Land & Ocean Temperature

It’s official. 2015 wasn’t just the hottest year on record. It left 2014 far behind according to NASA and NOAA that independently released figures this week. NASA reported that the earth was with a.13 degrees Celsius compared to an average annual variation normally measured in 100ths of a degree. NOAA saw an even greater rise of 0.16 Celsius.

Meanwhile the World Economic Forum underway this week has shown that these facts have huge implications beyond the air and ocean temperatures themselves. As we see from the Global Risk Interconnection Map below, rising temperatures and our failure to adapt to climate change have a profound domino effect that includes extreme weather events, natural catastrophes, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.


WEF Chart

Looking beyond the environment, the rise in temperatures are a direct cause of food and water crises as a hotter planet makes agriculture less sustainable and satisfying the growing needs of almost 8 billion people more unlikely. Such scarcity takes on an ever more violent dimension when the lack for food and water can destabilize societies, spark conflicts and lead to terrorism or war as communities and countries fight for their very survival. For some populations that will mean mass migration either in search of the life’s staples or to avoid disease or civil war. Viewed individually, each one of these consequences of climate change are dramatic, but taken together they are potentially catastrophic.

The mandate for brands of all sizes is clear. They can no longer be passive or take a back seat in addressing climate change in the hope that someone, some institution or some technology will wave a wand and fix it for them. In fact, the only way to meet the climate challenges we face with equal force is to leverage our individual and combined efforts to radically change our thinking and behavior to stem the tide of rising temperatures. What this means for your brand is quite specific.

  1. DIRECT ENGAGEMENT: Whether you’re a multinational corporation, social enterprise or non-profit, you must engage with the debate around climate change and leverage the reach of your community starting the shifts in thinking and behavior to more sustainable alternatives.
  2. INTERNAL INVENTORY: From your supply chain to your HQ to the way you go to market, you must look at the carbon footprint incurred and switch to less damaging methods.
  3. COMPANY CULTURE: Rather than seeing sustainable practices as compliance issue or ‘nice to have,’ leadership, HR and marketing must communicate to all employees that new behaviors at work and home are essential to the well being of the company and their own futures.
  4. PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: Every company must rationalize the products or services they offer in terms of their positive or negative impact. This both mitigates the risk of consumer or media activism against the brand and builds their reputation.
  5. MINDFUL MARKETING: Customer and consumer engagement present each brand with an opportunity to share the unique contribution they are making to addressing climate change and to invite all stakeholders to join them in that process. This is not a marketing ploy but rather a commitment that will ensure your brand is relevant and meaningful to their lives.
  6. CONVERSATION LEADERSHIP: The expertise, reach and resources of brands gives them the unique opportunity to raise awareness of climate change and its consequences through their dialogue with all stakeholders. By engaging around issues that are caused by climate change, brands can play an active role in rewarding new behaviors as we have seen in the past with recycling and the green movement.

The myriad and interconnected consequences of undeniable climate change necessitate immediate action by all brands if they hope to protect the society on which their own prosperity depends. Every company offers specific products and services within distinct categories that offer up unique opportunities to play a meaningful role in reframing thinking and behavior on a global scale. The time for action is now as the consequences of neglect are already here. Human ingenuity has a history of rising to meet even the greatest challenges, but climate change demands of us an unprecedented level of urgency and commitment if we are to protect our survival and prosperity.


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