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For years we’ve heard about potential impacts of climate change within our lifetimes. 2023 showed us that impacts are not strictly theoretical as we collectively experienced extreme weather events that interrupted our daily lives. Joining the chorus of reports, papers, and studies warning of enhanced climate risk is the European Environment Agency, which recently published its European Climate Risk Assessment. The assessment paints a dire picture and encourages swift and more aggressive policy action in the EU. The report states in part:

“Most climate hazards in Europe will further increase during the 21st century, even under optimistic scenarios compatible with the Paris Agreement, but the magnitude and pace of change depend on global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A pessimistic scenario without additional policy action suggests that economic damages related to coastal floods alone might exceed EUR 1 trillion per year by the end of the century in the EU.”

The report encourages the EU to think about climate change in several different ways, more rapidly reduce GHG emissions to mitigate the worst-case scenarios and quickly build infrastructure to prepare for the unavoidable realities of climate change.

While these findings may be frightening, we shouldn’t be afraid to consider real and unavoidable impacts of climate change. The EU has some of the most stringent climate policies, and yet the report shows that the region is not prepared for what’s to come. If the EU’s policies have not effectively protected the continent, are current policies globally adequate to protect businesses? Many view ESG through a strictly compliance lens, but compliance alone is likely not enough to insulate and future-proof your company. To protect your company, robust risk management and active mitigation – beyond compliance alone – are necessary. The report notes that appropriate initiatives require long lead times. Companies sitting idly by, or that focus only on current regulatory compliance, risk being viable in the future.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile