Inroads into planning for climate change may be jeopardised by the global credit crisis, an academic will tell The Brisbane Institute tomorrow night (Tuesday, 14 October).
Professor Andrew Griffiths from The University of Queensland (UQ) Business School said business, industry and government must not let the credit crisis distract them from the greater issue of climate change.
Professor Griffiths said as businesses focused on their immediate survival, they might slow down sustainability initiatives, but this would be a mistake for individual companies and broader society and the economy.
"While the credit crisis will be resolved in time, climate change is unfolding," he said.
"It won't impact on companies tomorrow or the next day but climate change and extreme weather events are not going to diminish."
Professor Griffiths said extreme weather events such as Australia's 2006 Cyclone Larry or last month's Hurricane Ike, which narrowly avoided Houston in the US, had the capacity to devastate entire economies.
"Companies have to understand it is no longer simply about the impact they have on the natural environment," he said.
"As we move into a climate changing world, a lot of this is about the impact the environment can have on their company.
"The real threat of extreme weather events is to companies and industries that have heavily embedded infrastructure they can't move.
"We really have to start looking at how and where we are building our bridges, roads, ports and airports, and if they can withstand hurricanes, cyclones or floods."
Professor Griffiths is chair in business sustainability and strategy at UQ and academic director of the corporate sustainability executive program, which assists corporations with climate change strategy.
He said the credit crisis was further incentive for companies to become more sustainable.
"Companies can make significant cost-savings by reducing energy consumption and reducing waste," Professor Griffiths said.
"I work with a wide range of companies and even those who have no presence in this area believe they have to become more sustainable. They see their competitors doing this and they don't want to be left behind.
"Interestingly, a lot of companies also see it as a way of attracting staff because people are becoming more attuned to climate and sustainability issues and do not want to work for a company that is not actioning climate change issues."
Professor Griffiths is presenting a seminar for The Brisbane Institute on Climate Change and Business Strategy at Customs House at 6.15pm on Tuesday 14 October.
The Brisbane Institute is an independent organisation that provides opportunities for business, government and the community to come together to share information, innovative ideas and solutions to contemporary issues. Its primary sponsor is The University of Queensland and major sponsors are the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council.