In a recent report, Climate Change Preparedness and the Small Business Sector, Small Business Majority and the American Sustainable Business Council analyze how small businesses, which can be particularly at risk during the extreme weather events related to climate change, can not only survive the increasing impacts of climate change but benefit from investing in climate preparedness. The authors emphasize that increasing weather variability and extremes is impacting the economy on all levels – the report notes that the U.S. GAO has determined that climate change presents a significant financial risk to the federal government and therefore added climate change to its 2013 “High Risk” list, which identifies federal agencies and program areas deemed to be high risk due to their vulnerabilities and/or need for transformation – but that small businesses are “uniquely vulnerable” due to a variety of factors. For example, small businesses tend to have less access to capital and resources; and small businesses more often operate out of a single physical location and get the majority of their business from the immediate area.
The authors observe that historical responses to climate change have emphasized mitigation efforts such as reducing greenhouse gases but that more recently there has been increased focus on adaptation and preparedness. The report presents several case studies of the efforts of certain small businesses to build climate resilience into their businesses and closes with initial recommendations for small business owners wishing to integrate climate-related strategy into their business plans:
- Identify a business continuity plan / risk management plan (to identify the risks of climate change impacts specific to one’s business).
- Partner with local authorities (promotes information sharing and helps identify potentially helpful financial incentives).
- Use education and outreach (raises awareness of the potential impacts of extreme weather events).
- Seek input from the community.
- Call for action to address climate change across local, state, and federal levels.