Developing a green business mentality
A LIFE-funded project from Greece has demonstrated how banks can successfully support their client businesses to adapt to climate change. The Climabiz project has provided bank staff with tools to help businesses assess how they might be affected by climate change and how they can adapt their activities accordingly to improve their environmental and economic performance.
As well as affecting the environment, climate change is creating risks for businesses impacted by climate or meteorological events in sectors as diverse as tourism, insurance, energy and food. Most financial institutions have not yet given enough thought to how this will affect their business. They urgently need to develop climate change adaptation strategies.
Assessing climate change impact
The EU's LIFE+ programme provided co-funding to Piraeus Bank for the three-year project Climabiz (2010-12) to promote effective climate change adaptation with its many client businesses. It aimed to deliver a more environmentally conscious approach to business – taking into account the risks from climate change and the opportunities offered by climate action – in Greece and other Member States in which Piraeus Bank has subsidiaries, such as Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.
Climabiz created a model for calculating the estimated impact of climate change on any given business in monetary terms. To build up the model, it conducted an assessment of the climate change risks and opportunities for all economic sectors in Greece – including environmental legislation over the period 2021-2050.
The project aggregated the assessment data into 146 'typical units'. The project was able to use these units to calculate the estimated impact of climate change on over 3800 individual companies based on their sector of activity, types of installation, production materials etc. It also offered a simplified online version of the model, to give companies an idea of their climate change impact and to encourage them to talk to the bank.
Climabiz worked to enable bank staff to support businesses in identifying specific measures that they can implement to directly improve their environmental and economic performance. It established a database of greenhouse gas-reduction measures and their associated costs.
Significant internal capacity was built through staff training. A total of over 4500 companies received free consultations with the bank on adapting to climate change. Over 4300 are reported to have invested in climate change adaptation solutions, some of which are presented in an online best practice portal established by the project.
The Climabiz approach hopes to serve as an example to other financial institutions and policy makers in Europe. The incorporation of climate-related risk into the risk profile of clients will assist banks in creating 'healthier' portfolios, as well as developing much broader green consciousness in the business community in Europe. Ultimately it can help improve adaptation to climate change and the creation of a more sustainable economy in Europe.