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How can businesses adapt to climate change?
Due to time lags in the global climate system, we can expect some degree of climate change despite current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations will need to adapt their practices, policies and technologies to protect themselves from the risks and recover from losses caused by climate impacts, as well as make the most of new opportunities that arise. But how can business decisions be made in the face of uncertainty about climate change impacts, and what these mean for companies and consumers? Dr Frans Berkhout, from SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) and the Tyndall Centre, is developing and testing ways to assess how people in businesses can adapt under conditions of uncertainty about the impacts of climate change. Working with colleagues in academia and industry, he will develop measures of companies' adaptive capacity - based on a company's availability of technological and strategic opportunities to adapt, their internal resources, managerial capabilities and coping mechanisms, and the regulatory and market context. The researchers will compare companies in the UK water and house-building industries with companies elsewhere in Europe, to assess adaptability in different contexts. They will assess how UK companies can make changes in climate-dependant aspects of their business. Using conceptual models and interacting with industry representatives, they will evaluate alternative ways for companies to adapt, and analyse the economic feasibility of these various pathways. A set of indicators representing a company's adaptive capacity will then be developed to help organisations identify their vulnerability to climate change, provide a check-list for monitoring their ability to respond to impacts, and improve their development of adaptation strategies. The concepts and methods developed as part of the project will also be of interest to the political, economic and social research community.

Businesses need to consider ways to adapt to climate change. A new Tyndall Centre project is looking at the vulnerability of the water and housing industries, and how they can adapt to the impacts of climate change. © M. Robinson More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.23 (Business and climate change: measuring and enhancing adaptive capacity): Dr Frans Berkhout SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research

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University of Sussex, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 9RF, UK Phone: +44 (0) 1273 87 7130; Fax: +44 (0) 1273 68 5865 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Professor David Gann, SPRU, University of Sussex Professor Nigel Arnell, Department of Geography, University of Southampton Business partners: Anglian Water, Wessex Water, SE Water, South Staffordshire Water, Chichester Diocesan Housing Association, Gleeson Homes, St George Regeneration, Wilcon Homes, Peabody Trust Project duration: May 2001 to April 2003 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research: SPRU/Tyndall Centre Business and Climate Change project: IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability:

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