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Distilling the Business Implications of Climate Change


The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the most comprehensive review of climate science since the panel released its Nobel Peace Prize-winning AR4 in 2007.  AR5 contains a wealth of information on the projected impact of climate change on business operations. But the full assessment, which is being released over the course of 13 months, is thousands of pages long and written in scientific and technical language – a potential deterrent to lay readers.

For that reason, the European Climate Foundation has teamed up the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), the Cambridge Judge Business School, and a variety of partners from the business community to distil the key AR5 findings into clear, short, sector-specific summaries derived from the original text.  These summaries will cover the broad implications of climate change as well as the particular implications for industry, employment, energy, finance, transport, tourism, cities, buildings, agriculture, fisheries, and the military. Our hope is that as businesses gain a stronger understanding of climate science, they will recognize the risks to their business models and potential opportunities and consider options for adapting to climate change, as well as for mitigating their contributions to the problem.

Releases to date

The first two sets of the ECF-supported summary documents, infographics, and PowerPoint presentations are available now. The first document, published in September 2013, explains the process of compiling AR5 and its significance for business (click on “What is the IPCC?” tab).  The second, published in October 2013, summarises the key findings from the IPCC’s Working Group I, focusing on the physical science as the foundation of understanding climate change (click on “Climate Science” tab).

These summaries and infographics are licensed as Creative Commons and may be used for information, education, training, and presentation.

Coming up: Sectoral modules to be published in 2014

Most of the sector-specific content will be contained in the reports from the IPCC Working Groups II and III, which are scheduled to come out in March and April 2014.  Summary documents based on these reports will be produced and released soon thereafter.

Sector ECF Partner
Agriculture Business for Sustainable Responsibility (BSR)
Buildings Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN)

and Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE)

Cities ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
Employment European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)
Energy Production and Use World Energy Council (WEC)
Industry Business for Sustainable Responsibility (BSR)
Investors The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC)
Military Institute for Environmental Security (IES)
Tourism World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTS)
Transport Business for Sustainable Responsibility (BSR)
Fisheries Sustainable Fish

Additional resources

Communicating the content and relevance of AR5 is a huge task, and the summaries produced for business audiences are part of a larger strategy that involves communication efforts by the broader scientific community, NGOs, and governments.

One example is this video, “Climate Change: The State of the Science,” produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia and funded by the UN Foundation. The video highlights several of the most significant statements in the IPCC’s AR5 summary for policymakers from Working Group I.

Please check back here regularly for new resources.  For more information on the overall project, please contact

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