The economy exists within our environment
There are at least four ways climate change will affect economies and businesses in the Basin:
- create new economic opportunities
- cause direct damage or loss to property, natural resources, assets, and productivity
- drive the transition from a high carbon, fossil-fuels-based economy to a clean, green low carbon economy
- impact costs and/or availability of goods and services
Emerging economic opportunities
As climate changes and the world transitions to a low carbon economy, there will be economic sectors that grow and benefit.
- Clean energy (check out the map for Major Clean Energy Projects)
- Energy efficiency
- Clean technology
- Agriculture and food production in the Basin (check out the growing season tab in the Climate Layers to see how growing seasons are projected to change in the future)
- Green building and construction materials
- Repair and retrofit services
- Sharing and re-use services
- Low carbon transportation services
An important part of the shift to a low-carbon economy is a just transition for the workers and communities currently dependent on high emitting sectors for their livelihoods.
Climate change can change the business landscape in multiple ways. Here are some examples.
- Extreme events locally like flooding or wildfire can cause business interruption and even permanent business closures.
- Extreme events elsewhere can impact Basin businesses if supply chains are disrupted. Check out the map to see how weather events affect transportation in our region.
- Businesses with a high energy demand will face increasing prices for fuel and growing pressure to find greener alternatives.
Basin business sectors at risk
Businesses that are highly climate-dependent, like ski hills, outdoor recreation, food production and forestry will be most vulnerable to climate change.
Shifts in the balance between rain and snow in our region, including more winter precipitation falling as rain at lower elevations, are expected to impact outdoor winter recreation opportunities.
Commercial transportation will be affected by extreme weather events causing highway closures.
Hydroelectric power generators will have to adapt to changes in seasonal water availability as summers get hotter and drier and winters get warmer and wetter.
Creating a climate-friendly economy
Making the full transition to a climate-friendly low carbon economy will be several decades in the making and it’s vital that we start now if we are to achieve the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to avoid catastrophic climate changes.
Many studies have shown that companies aiming for major reductions in emissions, waste generation and resource use are financially outperforming their competitors. Adopting circular economy strategies can result in big cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions and virgin resource use.
Becoming a climate-resilient business
As a business owner, it’s a good idea to be thinking about the ways in which climate change could impact your enterprise.
- How is your business vulnerable to climate-related impacts and what can you do about it?
- What steps can you take to reduce emissions and your business’s impact on climate?
As consumers we have a wide range of opportunities to contribute to climate solutions. The choices we make around food, transportation, clothing, electronics, energy, and housing make a difference when everyone’s actions are added together. Our collective spending power and how we choose to use it sends important signals to businesses large and small.
It’s important that we learn about the climate consequences of our spending and financial investments.
Introducing the circular economy
The circular economy is poised to replace our current “make, use, and dispose” economy.
It’s focused on optimizing the use of natural resources by designing products for longevity, repairability, and easy recovery of materials at end-of-life so that they can be reused and repurposed with a minimum investment of energy. In this way, the carbon footprint of products and services is minimized across their entire lifecycle.
As supply chains are redesigned to embody a circular economy, benefits can be expected for the economy and environment.