Climate change business sustainability

Chose one Australian business and use this business in your essay.

Introduce the key attributes of your chosen business and identify the inter-relationships between your chosen business and its natural, social and economic environments (500-600 words)

Analyse and evaluate the implications of climate change for your chosen business, as well as its impacts on climate change (a two-way analysis) (500-600 words).

Critically evaluate the current planning and management strategies and policies of the company and the broader industry with respect to climate change and sustainability (800 words).

Climate Change and Business Sustainability: Australia Post Case Study

Introduction

Australia Post is a business organization that offers letter and parcel delivery services throughout Australia and e-commerce. The entity also handles digital channels and operates a national post office network that provides postal service in the local communities and business organizations.  Since its incorporation following the Australia Corporation Act of 1989, the organization continuously evolves in its operation in response to economic, social and environmental dynamics (Australia Post 2015, p. 10). Australia Post deems its commercial endeavors as of significant impact to the farewell of the community it operates within. The organization acknowledges that climate changes are one of the major threats facing the current and generation (Australia Post 2017). Through policies and sustainability approaches, Australia Post has shown its unwavering commitment towards sustainable social, economic and natural environment.

Interactions between Australia Post and the social, economic and natural environments relate to the organization’s financial objectives and underlying operations. The organization’s social environment is defined by its consumers, employees and the members of the community it operates in.  The relationship between Australia Post and its customers is determined by the quality of products and services.  Australia Post argues that the quality of delivery; which entails timeliness and safety of the product contributes to a healthy relationship with its consumers, hence promoting financial performance (Australia Post 2015). The organization’ social involves the government and business as service consumers. The entity owes the government social and legal responsibilities of abiding to set laws and regulation that promote society welfare. The corporate-employee relationship is critical to the success of any entity. Australia Post employees are entitled to a working environment that respects cultural diversity as well as safety. In return, employees are expected to uphold corporate culture, which includes norms and acceptable codes of conduct.

Protection and maintenance of the natural environment are an essential responsibility of the Australia Post. The organization’s Corporate Responsibility of 2016 provides that, management of the company’s impact on the natural environment helps reduce operational risks, manage costs and improve consumer values. There are several ways in which Australia Post as a company interacts with the natural environment.  Transportation is a focus segment in the organization’s pro-environment approach (Australia Post 2017). Use of vehicles and other means of transport is one way to which the entity impacts the environment.  The entity’s climate change position highlight that increase carbon emissions into the atmosphere is contributed by use of fossil fuel in transportation. Companies like Australia Post are some of the entities that pollute the natural environment through oil powered transportation means.

Australia Post lists building and facilities as areas of focus that bear a significant impact on the environment. Buildings and operation facilities primarily contribute to the total energy consumption of the firm (Australia Post 2017). Overconsumption of energy may have indirect or direct effects on the natural environment. Information Technology and lighting systems have a great impact on the energy consumption. Inefficient energy consumption by such facilities bears negative impacts on environmental sustainability. Built environments are also attributed to release toxins into the environment that affects air quality. Poor management of wastes produced in the building is one of the ways that corporate entities like Australia Post can negatively impact the natural environment.  Built environment has a major influence on public health. Airborne diseases tend to be problematic health issues in buildings fitted with inefficient facilities like air condition. Infrastructures in the form of buildings and operational facilities that are not well planned my affect the natural state of the environment.

Social, natural and economic conditions are highly interrelated. For instance, the social wellbeing of the community within which a business operates is affected by environmentally impactful business operations. A polluted environment tends to contribute to the occurrence of chronic diseases and related health complications. The state of the natural environment is also impacted by social factors like culture in the external and internal environments of an organization. The overall effect of natural and social environments is translated on the economic performance of an entity. There are several ways in which the relationship between social and natural environments is manifested on the fiscal state of an entity. For instance, failure to exercise Corporate Social Responsibility will negatively impact the company reputation, which in return may bear devastating effect on stakeholder relationship.

Consequences of Climate Change on Australia Post

Effects of climate change are unequivocal. While most literature studies tend to focus on agricultural, manufacturing and human health, consequences of climate change are likely to go beyond these sectors. Climate change bears environmental, social, economic and political implications.  Australia, just like most nations in the world is experiencing the consequences of climate change. It is true that agriculture and production business will be the most affected by the environmental devastation. Businesses operating in service industries like Australia Post are more likely to suffer from climate change in more complicated ways (Hickling and Grace 2004, p. 12). Thus, there is a need to develop understanding of how environmental, social, economic and political effects of climate change may affect Australia Post.

Climate change will affect labor productivity. Labor is a very crucial factor of business productivity. The productivity of labor is categorized into two major aspects; time and quality. Any factor that impacts these two conditions of labor will affect both quality and level of productivity. The health of a person determines his or her level of productivity. There are numerous direct ways in which health of an individual may be affected by climate change. The increase in mean temperatures will likely increase or lead to health complications like kidney stones.  Extreme weather events like heat waves and cold waves will enhance the occurrence of diseases. Climate change will also result in flooding and drought, hence resulting in deaths and poor health in general as discussed by Kumar and Yalew (2012, p. 38). Australia’s productivity labor force is made up of in-house persons and partnership workforce. Effects of climate change on members of the labor force will lead to reduced quality and productivity of the organization.

Climate change will contribute to risks of changes in regulation. Changes in government policies, in response to climate change will lead to unknown and uncertain effects on corporate entities like Australia Post. Government policies on the regulatory price of carbon, carbon trading capabilities, and carbon reporting capabilities are projected to be more stringent. The financial cost of upholding these policies in the form of management expenses, monitoring and assurance costs and investment cost of business activities and programs that reduce the carbon liability of the firm will be incurred.

Climate change will impact the consumer behavior.  Australia Post is concerned with the likelihood of a shift in consumption patterns as a result of developing perception on how certain goods and services will impact the environment. As a service provider, specifically in e-commerce and transportation, change in demand of goods, and the means through which products will be delivered will affect the company’s business model. In response to consumer pattern disruption, the organization will be impacted by a decline in demand for goods in a period of 3-6 years before adopting to the changes.

Effects of Australia Post to the Environment

The manner in which the organization may impact climate change depends on the interactions between the organization and the natural environment. Transportation activities related to the company operation contribute to the general implications of the entity on climate change. Shipping includes upstream movement and distribution of goods through road, rail, ship, and air. These are energy and fuel related activities which tend to increase carbon levels in the atmosphere. Employee commuting and business travel activities are also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the organization.

Housing and facilities managed by the organization are also sources of emissions into the environment. Considering the several years of existence of the Australia Post, some of the storage facilities and administration lack proper machinery and programs to deal with the waste produced and energy efficiency. Failure of such facilities to handle product end life in the best manner results in the release of waste into the natural environment.

Climate Change and Business Sustainability

As much as scientists and other experts anticipate for extreme effects of climate change on business, there is no clear picture of the extent in which climate change may affect entities. Reversal of the consequences of climate change is not an option. However, certain environment sensitive practices may contribute towards slowing down the process of climate change. Australia Post is one of the entities in the Australia service industry that pledges commitment to reducing carbon emissions on the environment and its impact on climate change. There are several ways through which Australia Post is engaging in sustainability and environmentalism.

Australia Post, through the Environmental Sustainability Strategy, is committed to reducing its carbon emission by 25% by the year 2020 (Australia Post 2017). To attain the set target, the organization has adopted particular strategies that address its interaction with the environment. The first approach is to drive energy efficiency. Australia Post has incurred capital expenditure to finance its energy initiative. The program assumes four strategies. The first methodology is an energy efficiency project. The other three approaches include the capital replacement for an end of life, upgrade of facility and machinery and the increase of business efficiency (Australia Post 2015, p. 34).   The organization is currently looking into increasing the capacity of its solar power program. In the last financial year, the company reported completed installation of 23 commercial solar systems that could translate to the annual saving of 835 tons of carbon (Australia Post 2017). 

All forms of product or employee transportation associated with the company are targeted in the Environmental Sustainability Strategy. The company has continually focused on fleet management, especially by reducing fuel usage. The active replacement strategy deployed by the firm ensures that older vehicles are replaced first. The company is also replacing its gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles. In the last financial year, Australia Post reported the introduction of purely electric commercial vans, several electric hybrid vehicles, and motorbikes with 60% better in fuel efficiency (Australia Post 2017).

Waste management in the economy is another approach sought by the organization to slow down climate change. Australia Post views that, its extensive network that links to several communities and businesses can be used to collect non-biodegradable items that alternatively could end up in the ecosystem. The organization is determined to prevent a minimum of 100,000 tons of material from being dumped in landfills. Most recently, the company has entered several partnership agreements brands like Colgate to recycle wastes from such enterprises.

Together with other players in the Australia service industry, much has been done to resolve climate change through sustainable business practices. Business entities are adopting to the increasing environmental regulations set by the government gradually. The Australian government is a member and signatory of the Paris Agreement (Australian Government: Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet 2015, p. 3). Signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement are required to remain committed to ensuring the global increase in temperatures are maintained below 2°C (Kumar and Yalew 2012, p. 32). In light of this, all Australian companies are obliged to honor Carbon Trading Polices, contribute to Mainstream Fund and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI).

Conclusion

Climate change impacts social, political and economic aspects of life. Practices by large sized corporations like Australia Post contribute to pollution of the natural environment. Such businesses are now, more than ever held liable for their contributions towards climate change. Apart from exercising social responsibilities, Australia Post and other entities in the same industry are responding to effects of climate change on their performance. Evidently, as discussed above, Australia Post is engaging in a number of collective and individual programs with the aim of minimizing its contribution towards climate change.

Reference List

Australian Government: Department of Environment Energy, 2017. Climate change impacts in Victoria. [Online]
Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science/impacts/vic
[Accessed 14 June 2017].

Australian Government: Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, 2015. Setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions, s.l.: Commonwealth of Australia.

Australia Post, 2015. 2015 Annual Report, s.l.: Australia Post.

Australia Post, 2015. Climate Change 2015 Information Request, s.l.: Autralia Post.

Australia Post, 2017. Our Environment. [Online]
Available at: http://auspost.com.au/annualreport2016/our-environment.html
[Accessed 14 July 2017].

Hickling, M. and Grace, E., 2004. How climate change is impacting financial services, s.l.: The Institute of Actuaries of Australia.

Kumar, S. and Yalew, A. W., 2012. Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Secondary Activities: A Literature Review. Low Carbon Economy, 3(2), pp. 39-48.

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