Assessing the risk of climate change

Being able to adapt to climate change effectively entails knowing your risks and vulnerabilities. A new standard for risk assessment has just joined the ISO climate adaptation series.

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Por Clare Naden
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Climate change is one of the biggest headaches for many businesses, with the resulting extreme weather, loss of biodiversity and environmental disasters topping the World Economic Forum’s list of global risks that we all need to be concerned about.

While implementing actions to mitigate climate change is essential, organizations still need to take steps to adapt. Understanding and assessing their risks and vulnerabilities is a key element of that.

ISO 14091, Adaptation to climate change – Guidelines on vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment, describes how to understand an organization’s vulnerability and how to develop and implement a sound risk assessment in the context of climate change. It can be used for assessing both present and future climate change risks.

The standard provides guidance on the use of screening assessments and impact chains, allowing for qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Having such information – and being able to document it in an internationally agreed way – helps organizations of all kinds and sizes make better business decisions. It is also a useful tool for climate-related reporting.

ISO 14091 is the latest in the emerging family of standards on climate change adaptation that sit under the umbrella of ISO 14090, Adaptation to climate change – Principles, requirements and guidelines. ISO 14090 describes the many elements of climate change adaptation, including pre-planning, adaptation planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting and communication.

Others in the family include technical specification ISO/TS 14092, Adaptation to climate change – Requirements and guidance on adaptation planning for local governments and communities, and future standards ISO 14093, Mechanism for financing local adaptation to climate change: Performance-based climate resilience grants, and ISO 14097, a framework for assessing and reporting investments and financing activities related to climate change.

All of these standards are the work of ISO subcommittee SC 7Greenhouse gas management and related activities, of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental management. Its secretariat is held jointly by SAC, ISO’s member for China, and SCC, ISO’s member for Canada. They can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.

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