THE Heat is On


The Business Travel Magazine - - Sustainability -

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

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