Brooke Avory, Manager, Partnership Development and Research, BSR
This year, BSR has been engaging with business leaders, civil society groups, and government representatives on our Business in a Climate-Constrained World initiative through events in New York, Paris, and, next month, in San Francisco and Beijing.
Last week, it was time to turn our attention to Hong Kong, where we held a dialogue on why addressing climate change is important for businesses in Asia. As an international port with a coastline of approximately 450 miles and more than 260 islands, Hong Kong will experience the effects of climate change through higher temperatures, increased rainfall interspersed with longer dry periods, and rising sea levels, among other events. Similar effects will wreak havoc across the region, disrupting businesses, supply chains, and communities.
To understand why climate change matters to businesses in Hong Kong, we invited three companies to share what they are doing to address climate change and what is needed to spur further action.
HSBC’s director climate of change strategy for Asia-Pacific, Wai-Shin Chan, spoke about the responsibility of financial services organizations to ensure that their activities don’t contribute to climate change, such as by supporting investments in carbon-intensive projects. HSBC has set up a Climate Change Center of Excellence, as a platform to educate their banking, high-net worth, and global markets clients on the risks and opportunities of climate change to influence their investment decision-making.
Ernest Wong, HP’s program manager for its social and environmental responsibility supply chain program in the Asia-Pacific region, discussed how the company helps suppliers understand their climate impacts through technical support. HP monitors their suppliers’ energy consumption and develops energy-savings plans and key performance indicators so that suppliers can determine their carbon footprints. HP also invites suppliers to summits on best practices in energy management, which incentivizes improved carbon performance by allowing suppliers to compare their performance against peers.
We also heard from Thomas Tang, director of corporate social responsibility at the engineering design and infrastructure firm AECOM. The company is helping clients respond to climate change by incorporating climate-proof elements into building design, such as drainage systems that prevent flooding. Another aspect of the strategy is to equip employees with knowledge about climate change so that they can convey this to AECOM’s customers.
One overarching theme emerged from the event: the importance of education. Raising awareness of how climate change relates to companies’ employees, customers, or other stakeholders, and building a common understanding of the impacts and issues is a necessary first step. This is especially important for companies like HSBC and AECOM, whose products or services can help others reduce emissions or respond to climate change, and companies like HP, which have significant supply chains.
BSR has partnered with the University of Cambridge and the European Climate Foundation to translate climate science into industry-specific, accessible language that businesses can easily understand and put into action. Read BSR’s summaries on agriculture, extractives, and transport.