Climate change

Providing insight for effective Climate Change response


Climate change risk – Adaptation and resilience

In response to the multifaceted challenges presented by climate change, the WEF calls for a ‘resilience imperative – an urgent necessity to find new avenues and more opportunities to mitigate, adapt to and build resilience against global risks and threats through collaboration among different stakeholders’.

The implications for society, and businesses that operate as key members within it, are significant. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998; and 2015 was the warmest yet. Scientists agree that this warming trend is extremely likely to be the result of human activity, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists also agree that limiting the increase in temperature to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is necessary to avoid dangerous climate changes and their impact on food security, water scarcity and human health.

Without action, average warming in the region of 3.7–4.8°C is expected by 2100, with severe, irreversible impacts on natural systems and society.

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Key findings


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What risk has risen to the top of identified global risks presented by the World Economic Forum (WEF)?

Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation is -

  • No. 1 of the Top 10 regarding impact of a global risk
  • No. 3 of the Top 10 for likelihood of the risk materialising
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What does this mean for business?

At the end of 2015, a big shift from business as usual was achieved with the signing of the Paris Agreement at COP21. The agreement indicated that all 195 countries planned to be more ambitious in their climate efforts. With the climate agreement taking effect in 2020, governments will likely implement new requirements for reporting on climate issues, with additional mitigation and adaptation measures being rolled out.

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What should you do about climate-related risk?

  • Climate risk often translates into business risk.
  • Implement robust measurement and reporting systems for carbon emissions, accompanied by appropriate carbon management strategies to help manage the exposure to carbon risk.
  • Management, employees, suppliers and industry peers need to work together to find innovative solutions.
  • Look for growth opportunities when responding to climate change challenges.
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How can governments and organisations minimise the impact of climate change, lower their risk, adapt to the change, and take advantage of the opportunities that are available?

Vulnerability assessments help to scope the most serious risks using indices of climate exposure, hazard intensity and environmental outcomes.

What does business need to prepare for carbon reporting?

Many countries have put the regulation of fossil fuels front and centre of their plans and are also setting targets for renewables and low-emission vehicles. This is true for South Africa, too, with the move towards a national carbon tax being of particular note.

The tax forms part of South Africa’s national response and will have implications for business, as will mandatory carbon emissions reporting, company-level carbon budgets and up-scaled national adaptation and mitigation programmes.

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‘Companies have to communicate to consumers about what they are selling and they have to do it in a way that incorporates the whole of their footprint … It’s great for the environment, and by the way it’s also good for economics. It’s both.’

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Contact us

Jayne Mammatt

Jayne Mammatt

Partner, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 4128

Chantal van der Watt

Chantal van der Watt

Senior Manager, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 5541

Jaco Viviers

Jaco Viviers

Manager, PwC South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)11 287 0826

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