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FSB influencing climate change policy

  • Blog
  • 10 August 2016

Written by Andrew Poole, Senior Policy Advisor for Environment and Energy for FSB.

I just got back from a meeting about saving the planet. But first, a bit of context...

Every five years, the Government must produce their Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), as mandated by the UK Climate Change Act. This sets out exactly what they propose to do to keep us all safe and prosperous in a more extreme climate. The next CCRA is due next year, in 2017. So where does the Government get its evidence from? Well, that’s actually where I’ve been today.

The CCRA Evidence Report, launched today by the Committee on Climate Change, will form the basis of the Government’s strategic, long-term thinking in this policy area. It has been developed by a large collection of independent academics, drawing on a wide range of industry and cross-sector expertise and experiences.

FSB influencing climate change policy

This is a neat example of how FSB’s research and survey programme feeds into real world politics, and the long timescales sometimes involved. Chapter Six of the CCRA Evidence Report focuses on business and industry. Almost three years ago, when this evidence report was first being planned, there was a real concern around the lack of available information about the impacts of climate change on small businesses.

Since then, we’ve had significant flood events almost every winter and growing concerns about the apparent lack of available flood insurance for those at high risk.
In response to these developing questions, FSB carried out research to look at the impact of severe weather on small businesses. There was a clear knowledge gap to be addressed.

According to our research, two thirds of small businesses have been negatively impacted by severe weather in the previous three years. But only 25 per cent have an adequate resilience plan in place.

When thinking about these impacts, most people will recall television images of dirty flood waters covering large swathes of towns and villages, storms battering Britain’s coastlines, or jack-knifed lorries and abandoned cars strewn across snow-covered motorways.

Whilst these events are devastating for those directly affected, they are only the tip of the iceberg, particularly for small businesses. The indirect impacts of severe weather can cause even greater problems than the more immediately visible direct impacts.

Key concerns for FSB members include staff absences, supply and delivery interruptions, reduced customer footfall, and utility failures (power, water and telecommunications).

FSB has gained plenty of media attention on severe weather issues, particularly during the winter storms, and our research has provided us with a great evidence base. For instance, our estimate that up to 75,000 smaller businesses at risk of flooding could currently struggle to find affordable flood insurance caused an enormous media stir last Christmas.

But, actually, the real reason for carrying out this research was, two years later, what happened today. The CCRA Evidence report, particularly the chapter on business and industry, quotes liberally from our FSB research. We have set the agenda for Government.

This is the culmination of two years work and extremely careful planning. But it shows what we can achieve when our policy, media and public affairs teams work together, in partnership with FSB members.

You can read the CCRA Evidence Report chapter on business and industry.
The rest of the CCRA Evidence Report can be found here.

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