Half of UK businesses already impacted by climate change

27th April 2023

The effects of climate change have already impacted nearly half of UK businesses, and a similar proportion have been hit by extreme weather events, new research suggests.

The study of over 1,500 businesses also found that nearly three-quarters are concerned about the impact of climate change over the next 10 years, with two-thirds saying that a global temperature rise of 2°C would have a “significant” impact on their business.

The most common effects of climate change felt by British businesses so far are disruption from extreme weather events, including flooding, storms and heatwaves, followed by increased operating costs, supply chain issues and physical damage, cited by 52%, 47%, 39% and 35%, respectively.

The research by global risk management and insurance broker, Gallagher, also found that 15% of have already moved premises due to climate change, while 16% have been forced to change their business model.

“Climate change clearly poses a serious threat to British businesses – and the damage is already being done,” said Neil Hodgson, managing director of risk management at Gallagher.

“The country is committed to reducing our emissions and reaching net zero by 2050, but with half of businesses reporting impacts, it seems we are already on the backfoot.”

According to the study, the sectors facing the greatest pressures from climate change include hospitality and tourism, banking and finance, and retailers, demonstrating a significant threat to the UK’s service-based economy.

Of those affected by climate change, 23% have already claimed against their insurance due to damages, yet only 38% were able to say that their current insurance policy covers damage caused by climate change and natural disasters.

Interestingly, 51% believe that it is government’s responsibility to ensure businesses are adapted to meet the challenge, while only 16% think the onus lies with businesses.

“Despite the widespread concern, many businesses are failing to act to protect themselves from the potential impacts of climate change, whether that is investing in risk management measures in their premises, buying more green equipment, or ensuring they have appropriate insurance,” Hodgson continued.

“What is perhaps most concerning is that businesses do not believe themselves responsible for protecting themselves against climate change – instead believing government should prepare them. It is time businesses begin to act.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

UK off track for net zero by 2030, CCC warns

Only a third of the emission reductions required for the UK to achieve net zero by 2030 are covered by credible plans, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned today.

18th July 2024

Read more

Almost three-fifths of UK environmental professionals feel there is a green skills gap across the country’s workforce, or that there will be, a new survey has uncovered.

4th July 2024

Read more

Climate hazards such as flooding, droughts and extreme heat are threatening eight in 10 of the world’s cities, new research from CDP has uncovered.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close