Climate Change & Heatwaves; the effect on UK SMEs and what action they can take
The Recent UK Heatwave:
The record UK heatwaves of July and August 2022 are having lasting and unprecedented effects on British business and infrastructure. These record-breaking heatwaves have caused infrastructure problems across train lines, airport runways, and roads. Train track infrastructure within the UK is designed to withstand temperatures up to 27 degrees, anything above this causes it to bend which makes travel unsafe. This is partially the reason as to why train travel can be delayed or come to a stand still during a heatwave. Another reason for the delays is due to worker and passenger safety in extreme heats and a lack of air conditioning in some older trains.
These effects on the UK infrastructure inevitably have knock on impacts to the wider economy and UK business, notably on employee health and attendance and the supply chain. Businesses should start preparing now to deal with future heatwaves and the turmoil these bring. Later in this piece, we have included some interesting business innovations to consider.
Extreme heat not only impacts the country’s infrastructure; it also has costly and devastating effects on the population’s health, energy grids, as well as agriculture and water reserves. With the impact on health, unions have been calling for workers to stay home, unfortunately at this time there is no legal requirement or maximum temperature for workplaces but will this be needed in the years to come?
On the other hand, severe droughts caused by the heat also lead to flooding when it does eventually rain, this can and will affect business infrastructure across the UK. If you are interested in finding out data and statistics on how the rising global temperatures can affect businesses fiscally, please click here.
Check out this Sky News coverage on the heat waves impact on UK Business.
Impacts of Drought:
Studies from the University of Cambridge have highlighted that after successive heatwaves and one of the driest summers in 50 years, the Environment Agency has confirmed that 8 out of 14 areas across England are now in drought conditions. Water companies have aimed to step up their actions including multiple hose pipe bans across the country. This naturally affects the UK farming and agriculture sector.
Cambridge experts note that the way to stop extreme weather events becoming the norm is to cut carbon emissions and reach net zero. Reports highlight that the recent hot extremes would have been virtually impossible without human emissions of carbon dioxide. The extreme heat brings with it both drought which affects agriculture and infrastructure, as well as wildfires.
You can read more about the drought effects on farming, plants and agriculture here.
Business innovation examples that can make a real difference:
Popular Tiktoker, Sam Bentley posts interesting and perhaps niche news on climate and sustainability as well as highlighting ways that individuals and businesses can combat climate change and reach net zero. His Tiktok currently has 586,000 followers with over 12.6m likes across his content. Within this issue, we have drawn attention to some ideas and innovations shown across his channel that could be good for more businesses to take on board.
- Tulip Wind Turbines – these turbines produce clean energy from low wind speeds from almost any direction, they are safe for wildlife and they look a lot cleaner and more aesthetic than traditional turbines. When these turbines are grouped together they can drive wind into each other. This helps the performance of them by up to 50%. They come in 3 sizes depending on if they are for individual or commercial use. These could be a viable option for businesses looking to power their electric vehicles or office blocks.
2. SmartFlower – This flower shaped solar panel tracks the sun throughout the day to produce clean and renewable energy. It consists of 12 ‘petals’ each made from solar panels. It automatically unfolds every morning when the sun rises and tracks the rays throughout the day, at night time or in bad weather, the flower folds into a secure position. It is easy to move and install with an installation time of 4 to 5 hours. This would be a great option for businesses looking to generate clean, renewable electricity. The product can produce anywhere from 4,000 to 6,200 kWh/year.
3. The WasteShark – This robot designed by RanMarine glides across the surface of water and consumes plastic waste, they can consume up to 1 ton of plastic waste a day! This robot is 4G enabled and can be operated remotely or run on its own for 6 to 8 hours a day by itself while producing zero emissions. It is wildlife friendly and can collect environmental data in its clean up process. This could be a good one for waste management companies to consider!
Sam’s channel has many more examples of innovations like these ones, we recommend checking out his content!
Expert quote on how climate change can affect UK SMEs:
We got in touch again with Dr Alina Udall who you may remember from our first Green Guide Issue on Earth day. She commented that, “while the 3Ps of Identity (how we perceive ourselves and others) play a big role in encouraging sustainable actions, there are other important factors to consider.
Our United Nations report 2022, led by Dr. Erlijn van Genuchten, and in collaboration with Brian O Regan, Deval Pandya, and myself, revealed seven key barriers stopping people from using energy technologies even when it helps them save energy. One key barrier we highlight today is ‘addressing the right need’. ‘Addressing the right need’ involves understanding the priorities of consumers. Four needs/priorities are important which we call the 4Ps of Needs:
1. Personal (helping oneself, an Egoistic need) – A person values helping themselves. People will choose new technologies that save them energy if it helps themselves. Thus, people consume sustainable products and energy technologies because they are perceived as less costly to themselves.
2. People (helping people, an Altruistic need) – A person values helping others. People will choose new technologies that save them energy if it helps other people. Thus, people consume sustainable products and energy technologies because they are perceived as less harmful to other people.
3. Planet (helping the planet, a Biospheric need) – A person values helping the planet. People will choose new technologies that save them energy if it helps the planet. Thus, people consume sustainable products and energy technologies because they are perceived as less harmful to the planet.
4. Playful (having fun, a Hedonic need) – A person values having fun. People will choose new technologies that save them energy if it is fun, exciting, and novel. Thus, people consume sustainable products and energy technologies because they are perceived as enjoyable for themselves.
To further understand which needs you, your team, and/or your organisation prioritize, a My–Sustainability–ID (My–Sus–ID) assessment tool has been developed. This tool helps you visualise and make sense of your ‘My-Sus-ID Profile’. By making sense of these needs you can know how and in what ways to best motivate energy saving most optimally. To identify you, your team, and/or your organisation’s My–Sus–ID Profile, please contact us at email@example.com”
- All of our directors operate hybrid or electric cars when travelling to meet clients to reduce over emissions as a company.
- Our hybrid and WFH policies help with reduction of commuting to the office which also helps with lower emissions but also the mental health of our team.
- We use local suppliers for the office and catering for business meetings.
- We support green businesses in sourcing the funding they need to thrive.
How we can help:
If any of the business innovations mentioned in this guide sound like they could be a viable option for your business to implement, then great! We finance businesses regardless of size or sector and we are keen to finance more green initiatives like the ones mentioned in this month’s issue.