Climate Change and CSR: It’s a Shared Burden (August 4, 2011)

Fenton hosted its 10th CSR Twitter Chat on August 4 and the topic was the intersection of CSR and Global Climate Change. During the lively and rapid one-hour “discussion”, a consensus was reached that business’s response to climate change is a shared burden and one that companies can’t manage alone. Sixty consultants and corporate representatives (US-based and international) contributed thoughts, studies, reports and reiterated the urgency to respond to the harsh realities we are all facing. Most felt that governments are a step or two behind and business must lead the way with innovation. Cross center collaboration is required.

Some participants felt that climate change is leading to new opportunities for companies and job creation (though we need much more of it). For example, @CelesaHorvath contributed that firms can be developing new products & services (e.g., carbon accounting software, emissions management, green building) and @costrike shared that many opportunities abound for business including initiatives related to adaptation: agriculture, biofuels, transportation and energy efficiency. @JohnFriedman added that companies that hold back and not develop climate change policies/ procedures will be seen as acting in compliance, but if they instead move ahead, they will be seen as leaders.

@Jan_Morgan stated that linking climate change risk factors to finance and a company’s bottom line could help a CSR professional build urgency within his/her company in case corporate leadership was not engaging in planning.

Everyone agreed that NGOs and governmental agencies needed to be part of the equation. Organizations mentioned included CERES BICEP, UN Global Compact, Katerva, and 350. @ElaineCohen felt strongly that a common methodology needed for assessing risk and opportunity by region and sector and many concurred. @AmanSinghCSR reminded everyone that employee education and engagement was vitally important and yours truly (@susanmcp1) shared the following “Tips on Internal Communications on Climate Change.”

Thanks again to everyone’s great contributions and engagement. Mark your calendars for the next CSR Chat on August 18th at 3:30-4:30 pm EDT. Suggested topics are welcome.