Getting Started: On Corporate Climate Resilience in NJ

August 05, 2014

Written By: Rebecka Flynn, UNHSI Climate Fellow

Currently I am working within New Brunswick, New Jersey, just a few miles over from my hometown. I am working in conjuncture with Rutgers University, investigating how small businesses within the state can adapt to climate change. Most within the state have vivid memories of the damage that occurs to their area from hurricanes, especially Hurricane Sandy. The devastation, lose of life, property, and business, is not something that one readily forgets.

My job is not to meditate those damages, but to allow for small businesses within the state to bounce back quicker than before. Thanks to “Risky Business”, a report published in July by the Risky Business Partnership, a brainchild of former Mayor Bloomberg, we know the expectant damages to different regions of the country. The northeast, where we are located, is going to be hit harder by storms, flooding, and extreme heat events. As other areas of the country find their agricultural output decrease by up to 70%, extreme heat events for up to 2 complete months over 95 degrees, and many other disasters, New Jersey is going to be battered by storm after storm.

What I am finding is that small businesses within the state are not adapting to this new future. It is not known if they merely don’t know about adaptation, or if they do not have the resources. All together this is inconsequential, with what my end goal is. There currently is a project, called Getting to Resiliency, which helps municipalities adapt to climate change based on their individual risks. My plan is to lay the ground work for something similar to be done for small businesses. The ability to individualize the recommendations is the most important part. Right now there are general outlines for businesses, but they are just that, general. This is a major problem, the recommendations for a financial services company in Bergen County is going to be very different from blueberry farmers in Salem County. However under the current projects, there is very little difference in the recommendations to both.

Hopefully at the end of this fellowship we have enough information and have been able to adapt Getting to Reliency enough to allow for those individual recommendations for businesses. Doing so not only helps the businesses themselves, but also helps the state as a whole. The faster we can get out state back on its feet, and the economy restarted, the less these storms can destroy lives.

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