THE Heat is On
[ CLIMATE CHANGE ]
We know only too well that climate change is going to affect the way we live and work, but the key debate now is whether we can achieve global warming of less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100.
Scientists advocate a target of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius but, despite growing decarbonisation, political inertia and short-term economic drivers, there is an increasingly slender chance of realising that goal. So change to our way of life is inevitable and we need to understand the implications.
Responding to this rather gloomy prospect, a new and necessary industry is growing: ‘climate services’ covers the science, data analytics and strategy of dealing with a warming world that will affect the business travel sector like any other. Service providers, such as airlines, are users of these services as they will directly feel the effects but there are wider consequences for TMCS that need to be understood.
The knock-on effects of temperature rise for airlines includes having to fly further to get around deep convective systems and storms, the prospect of poorer aerodynamic lift necessitating lower payloads and reduced availability of some, especially coastal, airports. A recent paper suggests that by 2100 between 10-30% of flights on warm days will have to reduce payloads by
up to 4% which would directly affect cost and availability. Aircraft are already being prevented from taking off during extreme heat and severe storms hamper some airport functionality.
What this boils down to is the need for effective risk management. Companies need to know that they can account for the changes that are already starting to be felt and to minimise the risks to business. Expert organisations such as the UK Met Office or The Climate Services Partnership are able to model and predict trends and impacts and then offer decision support and risk mitigation strategies. By its very nature, business travel includes some uncertainty that companies address by choosing travel modes, location and date etc to minimise disruption. Climate change will take this requirement to a different level whereby we can envisage that some locations are increasingly difficult to serve at certain times of year and journey times will be far harder to predict.
Optimism that followed the Paris Accord is fading and the Trump administration’s ambivalence towards international effects – witness new enthusiasm for oil and gas drilling and the imposition of tariffs on solar panels – means that we can reasonably expect to fail to achieve the two degree target. Indeed, warming above one degree Celsius has already happened and, without mandatory obligations, states are unlikely to take steps to force change domestically if that courts economic penalties.
That probably means that the pace of adverse impacts will accelerate and operational effects will happen sooner than previously predicted.
Prudent companies will, along with driving their carbon reduction strategies harder, also be looking to get the best reasonable advice on how to adapt. That relates to service providers at the coal face, to use an unfortunate metaphor, but also to those like TMCS who look to shape the way that the business travel sector will deliver effective value for customers in a warming world.
Companies must act now to mitigate both their contribution to climate change and the impact of it, writes Roger Gardner