A third of the younger generations believe climate change is the biggest threat of our time, and over half believe they don’t have the power to do anything about it.

This article is part of a series of articles titled “Environment in Danger? Opportunities and Risks From a Young Generations’ Point of View”. Even though 70% of the younger generation think that gluing yourself to the street is not the right way to deal with the current situation, the prevailing feeling is that something must be done about climate change. We asked GrECo’s youngest generation for their opinions.

With approximately two-thirds of the younger generations seriously concerned about climate change and one-third believing it is the greatest threat of our time, it is time for us to sit up and listen.

Only 20% of young people believe that enough is currently being done to combat climate change. More than half believe it is primarily the responsibility of politicians and businesses to find solutions and create the right conditions. Of course, they also see themselves as having a part to play, but they believe that they are not the ones who can make the big changes.  This belief must be curbed.

Opportunities to be harnessed by changing the way we think and act.

Climate change will change the way business is done today, and it is essential that companies should prepare themselves for that.  There are numerous opportunities to be harnessed.  Take renewable energy as an example. As a species, we are predisposed to always look at the negatives but sometimes with fresh thinking those negatives can be turned on their heads. It is undeniable that extreme weather events are increasing and often with devastating results: Storms and heavy rains are leading to catastrophic flooding, which are often swiftly followed by extreme heat waves leading to drought.  However, with innovative thinking these weather phenomena can also be used to one’s advantage. The increase in wind favours wind turbines, and more hours of sunshine can be used to generate electricity. In addition, the increase in temperature allows for earlier harvest times and the cultivation of plants that have until today not been typical in CEE regions. 

Governmental entrepreneurship is another area where thinking differently can really make a difference no matter what generation you’re in.  Government guidelines are often seen as a hassle or hard to implement but the early implementation and flexible adaptation of new legislation can create opportunities for those with an entrepreneurial outlook.  Those who take longer to adopt new legislation are likely to suffer efficiency and competitive advantage losses. Companies and politicians wanting a competitive edge should take early action on climate change and stand out from the crowd.

The Gen Z is more than capable of thinking in these new and pioneering ways and must not leave the catalysts for change up to those already in power or running businesses; and businesses and governments need to listen to Gen Z’s ideas and then harness and utilise them to their advantage.

Risks to be aware of for early legislation adopters.

However, before companies and individuals go headlong into a strategy of being the first to adopt new policies or becoming the leaders in renewable energy capitalising on the changing weather conditions, there are risks to take into consideration. 

Due to the dramatic increase in extreme weather events, it is becoming increasingly important for companies and governments to consider the risks and to protect against them. First, the focus should be on physical measures such as flood barriers, hail protection, and irrigation during dry periods. Second, since not everything can be prevented by physical measures, it is also crucial to cover the remaining financial risks, for example with natural catastrophe insurance coverage, or the creation of pool solutions by governments.

New laws and regulations need to be followed, but companies need to be aware that they can create new liabilities that did not exist before. One example is the European Climate Law, which sets the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. Now each country must implement its own laws to comply with EU regulations. If a country fails, there will be heavy penalties. So new regulations are coming that will affect all of us, but especially those companies that produce a lot of greenhouse gases. If you don’t comply, the consequences are still to be determined, but it is expected that the sanctions will be drastic, because otherwise the government will have to pay high fines to the EU.

Regardless of how well companies and politicians handle the issue of climate change they are inevitably in the media spotlight. As a result, even the smallest misstep can result in all the public’s attention being focused on you if “wrong” statements are made, or ill-thought-out actions are taken. The reputational risk stakes are undeniably high.  You should take precautions against this potential negative publicity and the resulting damage to your reputation and protect yourself accordingly.

Sebastian Felber

Account Executive

T +43 664 962 40 26

Related Insights