Climate change led the agenda at Business in the Community's National Environment Conference 2005 * 'The Future Now'. According to the Met Office's Hadley Centre, the sizzling heat wave of 2003 could become the norm within our lifetimes. One in four industrial sites is currently in a flood risk area. Furthermore, with the number of people at high risk of flooding in Britain expected to more than double to almost 3.5 million by 2080, businesses nationwide are being called to action.

Head BBC weather presenter, Helen Young and Sir John Harman, chair of the Environment Agency highlighted the scientific evidence supporting the need for businesses to minimise their negative environmental impacts and maximise the business opportunities presented by a changing climate. Ian Pearson, BT Group's Futurologist told delegates that new technology offers the best hope for tackling environmental problems.

David Jackson, chair of Business in the Environment (the environmental campaign of Business in the Community), emphasised the vital role of large and small companies in tackling the critical environmental issues of the 21st Century, and stressed that in order to ensure long-term economic sustainability companies must take action now. He pointed out the importance of working closely with the organisation's supply chain to achieve sustainable environmental improvement.

An enthusiastic debate featuring panelists from both the private and public sector argued whether adapting the business to climate change was a more critical issue than mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Both before and after the debate, a significant majority of the audience, comprised of a range of professionals from companies of all sizes across the UK, agreed that mitigation is the more business critical issue.

Jim Haywood, Director of Business in the Environment, comments: "Climate Change is clearly a big issue with serious implications for business. It's easy to be daunted by the size of the challenge, or assume that action can be put off until tomorrow. This conference has shown that many companies are taking the issue seriously and taking action now to help combat climate change."