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Time to reset the narrative on climate change

While the pandemic continues to dominate headlines and much of the public debate, there is increasing anxiety that many other pressing issues are being neglected.  

Climate change ― that swept to the top of national agenda during the recent drought and devastating bushfire season ― was quickly knocked from the top spot with the onset of COVID-19.  

But rather than despair, Chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Council in South Australia and CEO of Business SA, Martin Haese said the pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reassessment and refocus on climate change issues.  

Mr Haese will chair the panel session on ‘ethical to social to ESG integration’ at Governance Institute’s Public Sector Governance Forum in November.  

‘The climate debate is a little bit in hiatus at the moment, however that provides an opportunity over the next six months to reset the narrative,’ Mr Haese said.  

He said the pandemic has resulted in a greater awareness and appreciation of the natural environment because more people have connected with it.  

‘Although the public conversation hasn’t been as loud, I would suspect that climate change consciousness is higher than what it was this time last year. The bushfires in Australia have contributed to this too.’ 

The new climate change narrative  

Mr Haese has identified four key issues that are set to dominate the new climate change agenda:  

  • Conscious consumerism  
  • Waste cycles and the role that waste plays in manufacturing supply chains  
  • The circular economy 
  • Low carbon transport, industry and agriculture.   

 And consumer awareness ― and demand for action ― is likely to continue to grow.  

The pandemic has really been forcing a rethink of how we consume, where we consume, and who we consume from,’ he said.  

‘There has certainly been a protracted shift towards people wanting to buy from and do business with organisations that either have a climate policy, a carbon neutrality goal or aspiration, who are involved in the circular economy, and have transparency and visibility around their waste cycle.’ 

What does this mean for business?  

Mr Haese said it is important that business keeps track of changing consumer sentiment.  

‘If businesses don’t respond to the wants and needs of their customers then they are not in business,’ he said.  

There is a greater emphasis being placed on whether organisations are making investments into climate aware and climate appropriate companies.  

‘Many organisations are putting governance measures in place that are associated with what they invest in, who they invest in and why they invest in. And now climate is generally within that lens.’ 

Insurable risk is likely to be another key consideration in business decisions going forward, Mr Haese said.  

‘Assessing insurable risk is going to drive behavioural change possibly faster than anything else. It will influence planning legislation along with many other outcomes.’

Find out more about the Public Sector Governance Forum and register  

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