2022 – Sustainable Business & Finance: Turning up the heat

‘Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'”

American Bob Dylan wrote this song as an anthem for change in 1963.

It was at the heat of the civil rights movement.

Dylan’s anthem is just as appropriate now as we consider the consequences of mankind’s failure to address climate change.

In New Zealand we are not immune to the consequences of adverse weather. There have been repeated floods and even tornadoes.

We have (yet) to experience extreme heatwaves like those that have impacting European capitals, and the brutal heat now affecting northeastern USA – cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston where its famous triathlon (in which many Kiwis have taken part) has been postponed to late August and citizens are baking.

In Shanghai workers are also sweltering in 40C heat.

This time last year, the big climate story was the major floods that spread, not just in the Northern Hemisphere, but down to Australia and NZ – where hundreds had to be evacuated in Marlborough after a State of Emergency was declared. Westport, Wellington and East Coast had also suffered torrential rain.

As the Financial Times editorial board observes, “abstract warnings about the climate emergency became all too real this month as extreme heat hit swaths of the northern hemisphere.

“The weather this summer has not been a freak event. It was predicted, with incredible accuracy, by meteorologists. Climate models predict that, without action, these heatwaves will become more frequent and more intense: temperatures experienced this year will no longer be considered unusual. That means exceptional days will be even hotter. The vicious cycle of dry winters, summer heatwaves and forest fires will continue to spin, even if countries stick to their current promises to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

That means countries will have to adapt to, not just mitigate, the impact of climate change.

This includes New Zealand.

In the Herald’s Sustainable Business and Finance report we take a look at some of the changes happening as businesses move to become more sustainable.

Christchurch International Airport is a world-leader when it comes to registering as “climate positive” and is now coaching major airports elsewhere.

We look at how banks like Westpac and NZ Green Investment Finance are incentivising businesses from farming to bus transport to become more sustainable and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Argosy Property and Mansons TCLM are developing first-class buildings to high-quality sustainable building standards.

What is heartening is the collaboration taking place across the finance sector and among directors to lead change.
But are the sands of time running out? More Dylan?

“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'”

Still appropriate. Still.

Enjoy the report.

Fran O’ Sullivan
Executive Editor
Mood of the Boardroom

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