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Step 2 helps you assess your resilience to current climate risk. This will make it easier for you to consider how future climate change might affect you (Step 3).
How resilient you are to climate depends on your local conditions, how prepared you are and how you manage risk. In this step, you identify how weather affects your business now, including the range of temperature, rainfall or other climate factors beyond which the impacts are unacceptable, or when new opportunities are opened up.
Don’t forget that the effects of weather and climate can be indirect, including effects on suppliers, processors and infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Think widely and consider the bigger picture of your business.
Risk management has positive and negative aspects, as the climate offers both opportunities and potential problems for your business. Your attitude to risk is important when choosing options to manage that risk. Some risks have a low probability but a high potential consequence, for instance a severe drought, while other risks have a high probability of occurring but the outcome is relatively minor, for instance mid winter frosts in Otago.
A neutral risk approach would treat a risk with a low probability but a high potential benefit (e.g. winning lotto) as comparable to a risk with a high probability but lower benefits (regular maintenance). A low risk approach would try to avoid or manage a low probability event with high impacts, for instance preparing for a drought by having additional supplementary feed. A high risk approach would be to have no plans in place and hope that there are no droughts or floods.
People’s attitude to risk varies according to how important the decision is and other risks faced besides climate risks. Think about how you manage risk at the moment, for instance:
Your attitude to risk is important but also think about whether:
Understanding current conditions and your past experiences sets the picture for how you manage climate risk now and in the future. You need to know the average climate conditions, including rainfall, temperature, seasonal changes and weather patterns that you farm or grow to. Also consider the effects of extreme weather, such as heavy rainfall, coastal flooding, droughts, very hot days and storms. How has the weather and/or climate affected production, are there any patterns or critical thresholds? Talking with
other locals could help you get a better picture.
To start your thinking, the diagram below shows some major weather events over the last few decades. How did the extreme weather events below affect you? How did they affect your suppliers or customers? What did you do? What did others do? What problems or opportunities arose?
Source: MfE Preparing for and adapting to climate change. Look ahead to the future
A critical threshold is a level or point where the impacts of climate and/or weather change from the norm or expected range. Thresholds can be defined naturally, e.g. the river levels where banks are overtopped or the temperature that animals become heat stressed. There may be more than one threshold. For example, at higher temperatures train rails heat and expand requiring speed restrictions; this might be acceptable once or twice a year but not more often. Critical thresholds also relate to opportunities. For instance, new crops may be commercially grown in an area or heavy rainfall could flush toxic algal blooms from rivers and improve water quality.
Alternatively, record how weather and climate affect you by using Table 2.2. An example has been filled out here.
A list of different climate variables is available here. Put as little or as much information as you need to get a picture of how you manage climate and weather risk currently, and review later:
You should now have a good idea of what your current climate and weather patterns mean for your business and how you manage climate risk. Looking over the table or list you have made, what are the main risks you face? Are you happy with the risk you face? Are there ways to reduce problems or capitalise on any opportunities?
Review each of the steps taken so far and the information collected, adding or revising your work. Note where you got your information, how much confidence you have in it and any areas that you think are incomplete. Once you are satisfied, write down your thoughts so that others can follow your work.
Tools to help you:
At the end of step 2 you should:
Task 2.1: Write down how you manage risk at the moment and your attitude to risk.
Task 2.2: Record how weather and climate affect you by thinking about the key parts of your business and make a list or alternatively
Record how weather and climate affect you by using
General Weather and Climate Information