We’ve gotten to a point where climate change is virtually undeniable–Australia is burning, 2019 was the second warmest year on record, and Greenland’s glaciers are melting like never before. For the business community especially, climate change is an especially dangerous risk as we still don’t know all the ways in which it will affect our planet.
That’s why, as the Guardian reported, the World Economic Forum’s annual risks report found that, for the first time in its 15-year history, the environment filled the top five places (check out all the risks in the graphic above) in the list of concerns likely to have a major impact over the next decade.
According to the report the top five risks in terms of likelihood in the next 10 years were:
- Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure and loss of human life.
- Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses.
- Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills and radioactive contamination.
- Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.
- Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.
A Note from the Authors:
On the environment, we note with grave concern the consequences of continued environmental degradation, including the record pace of species decline. Respondents to our Global Risks Perception Survey are also sounding the alarm, ranking climate change and related environmental issues as the top five risks in terms of likelihood—the first time in the survey’s history that one category has occupied all five of the top spots. But despite the need to be more ambitious when it comes to climate action, the UN has warned that countries have veered off course when it comes to meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Why This Matters: The World Economic Forum, which will kick off next week, brings together some of the world’s most influential business and political leaders. These men and women have the collective ability to truly change how governments and institutions approach climate action–from aggressive to negligible. Despite the talk, analysts warn that many companies are still lagging in accounting for all of the plausible financial risks from global warming. In that regard it will be worth watching how these leaders heed the warnings and if they will become better champions for comprehensive global climate action in 2020.
Go Deeper: Climate change will make or break businesses.