Waikato business leaders are worried about a lack of planning by local companies for the impacts of climate change.
The lack of preparedness has shown up in the latest regional business sentiment survey by Waikato economic development agency Te Waka, and been confirmed by Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Don Good.
Of the 413 respondents to the Te Waka survey, 69 per cent did not have any kind of climate change strategy or policy in place or under development.
Twelve per cent had an up-to-date strategy in place and 38 per cent were anticipating a negative impact on their business from climate change or related policies.
Te Waka said it was surprised that the majority of respondents had no strategy and that less than half expected climate change to affect them.
"Perhaps this is due to respondents focusing on the immediate future rather than further afield?", it said in a summary of the survey results.
"Either way a passive stance from business could present a significant future risk for the regional economy as the impact of climate change becomes more apparent and new policies are introduced in response."
The chamber's Good wasn't surprised.
He implied the chamber was planning a major focus on the issue to help its members but said it was too early to discuss details.
The chamber this week had held its first webinar on sustainability of business.
"The first thing a business can do is measure what they are doing now to impact the planet," he said. The chamber was doing its own work on this.
Asked what small to medium businesses could do to prepare for climate change, Te Waka chairman Hamish Bell suggested a first step would be to assess risk.
"Is your company at risk? Where and how? Look 10 years out. Consider various factors - heat, coastal inundation, environment etc."
Protecting physical assets was advised. This applied to buildings, location risk, critical physical infrastructure.
Bell said this protection was not just a matter of having adequate insurance.
Insurance may not cover some aspects of future risk, for example coastal inundation, he said. Businesses were advised to consider higher ground, flood protection and power supply protection among other areas.
There was a need to guard against broader infrastructure disruption such as in the supply chain, power, and transport sectors, and to consider the impact on the workforce and how staff worked. This included thinking about the impact of heat on productivity and remote working.
Disaster preparation - considering scenarios and response - was also recommended.
Bell said first steps to a strategy included talking to others, considering waste streams, cutting energy consumption, choosing sustainable suppliers, minimising travel and increasing staff and customer awareness.
Another major survey finding was that businesses had much more net confidence in their own business performance than they had in their particular sector and in the Waikato economy and the national economy.
Net confidence in own business was 1.5 per cent, compared to 34 per cent in the March 2021 survey. Net confidence in the sector economy, regional economy and New Zealand economy was -21 per cent (11pc), -31 per cent (11pc) and -49 per cent (-3pc) respectively.
Price increases were being considered by 76 per cent of respondents, compared to 58 per cent in March last year, while 49 per cent had invested in innovation in the past 12 months.
The top three challenges for businesses in the current economy were Covid (73 per cent), increasing prices (55 per cent) and wages/staff costs (55 per cent).
Top infrastructure challenges were considered to be roading (18 per cent), housing (13 per cent) and land (9 per cent).
On supply chain disruption, 65 per cent reported import distribution disruption, 54 per cent disruption with New Zealand purchased product distribution and 20 per cent disruption with New Zealand sold product distribution.
Skills shortage was a major concern with 71 per cent of respondents reporting it compared to 67 per cent at the same time last year. Construction, agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing were the main sectors reporting skills challenges.