Business students see barriers to Qld's climate adaptation

28 May 2010
Queensland's key industries may face significant barriers in adapting to climate change but it is essential they undertake early action, UQ student research has concluded. Twenty-one Master of Business students worked in teams using different climate change scenarios to evaluate the vulnerabilities of Queensland's coal, transportation, tourism, clean energy and insurance sectors, as well as policy developments. Business School lecturer and corporate sustainability expert Martina Linnenluecke said the research identified that each sector faced significant vulnerabilities to climate change, especially if emissions were not mitigated. "The students found that adverse impacts of climate change are expected for infrastructures such as energy and transportation or natural attractions such as coral reefs," Ms Linnenluecke said. "At the same time, Queensland is challenged to cope with other, non-climatic trends, such as population growth and movement into coastal areas. "This places additional stresses on infrastructure development, and increases vulnerabilities to climate change related impacts such as storm surges, floods or sea level rise." The students investigated the potential affects on the state's productivity for their Business Strategies for Sustainability and Innovation subject. They also identified appropriate adaptation, mitigation and resilience measures, as well as possible critical events and legislative frameworks and changes that might need to be considered, and how to respond to these. "The students have recommended that long-term adaptation and policy approaches are needed to build institutional, organisational and social capacities to respond to climate change impacts," Ms Linnenluecke said. "However, their findings also suggested there are significant barriers to the implementation of adaptation measures." Ms Linnenluecke said one barrier was that adaptation required significant investment, particularly where infrastructure was involved. Students concluded that policy developments also had a significant influence on how much effort sectors committed to addressing climate change. "Mandatory reporting requirements and the proposed, but now shelved ETS, for example, send signals to companies about how critical it is for them to be considering greenhouse gas emission reductions; policy needs to provide guidance," she said. "The findings of this project are yet another indicator that is essential for governments, industry sectors and individual businesses to act now on preparing for climate change." Business Strategies for Sustainability and Innovation examines the strategies that businesses introduce to deal with issues associated with sustainability and climate change. It is offered as part of the Master of Business program at UQ Business School.