Climate change affects the hydrologic cycle, leading to more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods. It is also causing the sea level to rise, which has a variety of impacts, including salination of surface waters and groundwater aquifers.
These changes often compound existing water risks. For example, in many areas, climate change will concentrate annual precipitation into a shorter time frame, thereby putting stress on local infrastructure and storage capacity in the dry months. Catastrophic weather events can also exacerbate existing water problems, whether it be a hurricane spreading pollution or a drought exacerbating water scarcity.
Climate change will be felt differently in different parts of the worlds, but it will have a greater impact on companies with footprints in areas with inadequate infrastructure or lack of capacity to adapt.
Business Impacts of Climate Change
- Decreased amounts of water available for business activities.
- Increased costs for water.
- Operational disruptions and associated financial loss.
- Increased costs for pre-treatment to obtain desired water quality.
- Increased health costs for employees in the countries that are impacted.
Projected Contribution of Climate Change to Declining Water Availability
Source: UNEP GRID-A 2009