Adaptation: Field of action industry and commerce

Pipelines on a factory siteClick to enlarge
Even industrial production is affected by climate change.
Source: Thorsten Schier/

The adaptation of industry and commerce requires protective measures for locations and infrastructure as well as innovative products and more efficient production technologies. These allow for greater independence of raw materials and cooling water and create export opportunities. If industry and commerce react to climate change prematurely, they can successfully compete in the long term.

Technical measures

For industry and commerce, the main risks of climate change are damages to locations and infrastructure caused by extreme weather events. In addition, supply shortages or, respectively, an increase in the cost of raw materials, water and energy are expected.

Innovative, technical measures do not only provide companies with the opportunity to produce more efficiently but also ensure that they are more independent of raw materials or cooling water. In addition, they enable companies to adapt more easily to climate change regulations or even benefit from such regulations. Climate-adapted products and process technologies, such as water-saving production methods or solutions to reduce emissions open up new market opportunities and export potential and are increasingly becoming a critical competitive factor.

Risks for locations due to extreme weather events can often be mitigated by structural prevention measures. Protection devices, such as deeper foundations, increase the building stability with respect to storms or floods. Mobile barriers can protect technical installations and reduce threats to the environment. With the help of building insulation, possible overheating in summer and limitations in work productivity can be prevented.

Political, legal and management measures

Successful adaptation requires a systematic, forward-looking risk management system, which provides for measures to mitigate and control climate and weather risks. Before constructing new buildings, a site- or region-specific risk analysis should be carried out to ensure that climate-related construction requirements are taken into account. For risk control purposes, companies also need early warning and monitoring systems, emergency plans and an appropriate insurance coverage.

Companies can meet potential shortages of raw materials and resulting production delays by diversifying locations, suppliers and raw materials and by increasingly relying on alternative raw materials. In addition, also the storage of raw materials and temporally flexible production steps are effective adaptation measures. As a result, companies are also less prone to interferences of or damages to the transport infrastructure due to extreme weather events.
In addition, the standardisation and technical regulations play an increasingly important role for the adaptation process of industry and commerce. Standards describe, for example, how technologies and products must be designed to function and match. In view of the technological change that climate change requires, some existing technical standards have to be updated and standardised and new standards have to be established in order to make innovative products marketable and adapt existing products to changing climatic conditions.

Currently, the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) is working on the revision of standards in the fields of energy supply, transportation, construction, manufacturing, as well as agriculture, forestry and waste management. For this purpose, an expert group “Adaptation to Climate Change” was established. It supports the DIN with the inclusion of climate change in national, European and international standards. However, it is necessary to revise and, where appropriate, adapt the technical rules and standards also beyond the scope of DIN, for example in the context of plant safety or in industry-specific regulations.

Furthermore, management standards such as EMAS can contribute to climate change adaptation since their aim is also the reduction of risks. In the future, business-related crisis management and business continuity management (pursuant to ISO TC 223) will need to increase the consideration of climate change. The ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility of companies (CSR and sustainability management) provides guidance for the reduction of damage susceptibility due to climate change and provides examples of climate change adaptation measures.

If you are interested in obtaining information about concrete impacts of climate change in the field of action industry and commerce, please click here.