Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
Scientist and decision-makers on the international and national arena agree that the climate is changing and will continue to change over this century. In fact, even if greenhouse gas emissions are brought to a halt today, the earth is already, to an extent, locked in towards climate change over the next 30-40 years, as a result of the emissions that have been released during the development of the modern society. The next 20 to 30 years efforts to respond to climate change will decide the long-term effects of global warming (IPCC, 2007). Sweden and the Swedish business sector have now the opportunity to set an example for other countries, also concerned with sustainable development, by taking advantages of the possibilities to “climate-proof” business activities within commercial boarders.
This qualitative study has examined the Swedish businesses’ understanding of the need to respond to climate change, with focus on mitigation and adaptation strategies. The study is based on eleven in-depth interviews with respondents that represent businesses within the sectors housing (including infrastructure), forestry industry (including paper and pulp production) and transport (including public transportation). The sectors were selected on the basis as they were particularly exposed to climatic impacts, but also with the aim to cover a large span of business activities. By applying a conceptual model of how a response process can take place in an organizational context (based on the parameters awareness and concern, idea of response strategy and response options), the understanding of the respondents was analyzed and assessed. The result indicates that the awareness of climate change is now high among the respondents, while the concern of its impacts varies in the sectors. In general, climate change is perceived as a wide-ranging external threat, that foremost changes conditions in the external context. Hence, in the perspective of the respondents, the largest reverse climate effects will not take place in “their backyard”, but will impact others directly and business indirectly. For that reason they do not consider themselves as exposed to direct impacts, but connect climate change to a need to reduce energy consumption and fossil fuel dependency. Hence, in many cases, the climate change issue has transcended from being treated as an environmental issue to an energy issue.
Finally, the results indicate that there is a strong link between adaptation and mitigation in a business context. As climate change is perceived as one by many external factors that can impact activities, businesses will not handle it differently from any other external challenges. For this reason, the concept of examining a systems’ totally response capacity, as has been the focus in this study, could improve further studies on businesses’ perspectives on dealing with climate change.
2007. , 40 p.
Climate change, mitigation, adaptation, response capacity and Swedish business sectors