Looking back to 2020, it was not only the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was, also, the year of intensifying climate change: high temperatures, floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and even locust plagues. Even more worryingly, the world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century.
What actions can be taken to adapt to this new climate emergency within an Environmental Management System based on ISO 14001:2015.
A new ISO Whitepaper may be the answer.
This article looks at the newly published ISO Whitepaper: How to use ISO 14090 to support ISO 14001 and adaptation to Climate Change, where ISO 14090:2019 is the International Standard on Adaptation to climate change — Principles, requirements and guidelines.
Globally, we need strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goals of holding global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C. This would limit the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
There are two main courses of action that can be taken: Mitigation and Adaptation.
Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce climate change, which involves reducing the flow of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behaviour. An example of mitigation would be to swap petrol-fuel vehicles or electric vehicles, thereby reducing the end of pipe emissions from the vehicles during their journeys.
However, it is recognised that climate change impacts seem to be accelerating and mitigation efforts will take decades to have a beneficial effect, such as the total replacement of fossil-fuel based vehicles for electric vehicles.
Adaptation takes a different approach. It is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects by building climate resilience into the fundamentals of business practice. Examples of an adaptation would be the building of flood defence to protect new domestic housing so that they are significantly above the current flood levels to allow for housing resilience to the increasing climate change affecting rainfall and high flood events.
These adaptation changes are more likely to be successful in the short- to medium-term but may have additional long-term benefits but Government and businesses will need to take a longer-term view for planning incorporating climate change into their strategy thinking.
Those already using ISO 14001 Environmental management systems will know about mitigating climate change. In combination with ISO 14090, there is an opportunity to integrate climate change adaptation into the Environmental Management System.
This ISO White Paper informs users of ISO 14001 about:
To assist in understanding the link between the two International Standards, the Whitepaper provides a table, which indicates how clauses in ISO 14001 can be supported by parts of ISO 14090, with direct reference to key clauses in each & includes Notes to explain the rationale.
For example, the relationship between the Planning requirements of Clause 6 of ISO 14001, the Clause 5: Pre-planning and Clause 6: Assessing climate change impacts including opportunities from ISO 14090.
Finally, the Whitepaper provides references to ISO 14001 and ISO 14090 as well as other related International Standards, such as ISO 14004 with guidelines to support your Environmental Management System, ISO 14091:2021 with Guidelines on vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment & ISO/TS 14092:2020, which provides requirements and guidance on adaptation planning for local governments and communities. All these International Standards can provide further support your climate change adaptation projects.
So, to summarise:
The Whitepaper gives you a clear roadmap to use ISO 14090 to support your climate change adaptation and the opportunity to drive this adaptation using your existing Environmental Management System based on ISO 14001:2015.
If you want to go deeper into climate change adaptation, the United Nations have published a report on the Adaptation Gap with global and local insights into the opportunities for using adaptation to build climate change resilience.
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