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ASCM Insights

Record Temps Further Stress the Need for Supply Chains to Combat Climate Change

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This week, the hottest topic — literally — is the weather around the world. Europe is suffering a record-setting heat wave. Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany and others are under weather alerts. Heat-related wildfires broke out in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. And dry conditions and strong winds are fueling wildfires in Greece, forcing people from their homes, halting transportation services and destroying crops. 

These conditions are deadly, principally because these nations lack the experience and equipment to manage what is, to them, a truly extraordinary circumstance. Few cities have cooling centers, and many buildings are not equipped with air conditioning. In fact, homes are often specifically built to retain heat because of the traditionally cool European climate.

There are infrastructure and transportation ramifications, as well. In Amsterdam, municipal workers had to spray water on mechanical bridges over canals to prevent jams that would block boat traffic. In Britain, numerous public services closed, and some trains and flights were canceled for fear of buckling rail lines and runway defects.

There are also rising economic impacts, according to a 2021 study by European economics and climate experts. Heat waves on average have lowered Europe’s annual economic growth by 0.5% in the past decade because extreme temperatures reduce people’s productivity.

One of the most regrettable aspects of this situation is that Western Europe has done more throughout the past three decades than any other region to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It expanded solar and wind power, introduced carbon taxes and other policies that discourage fossil fuel use, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. As Henry Fountain reports in The New York Times, the problem with CO2 is that it doesn’t respect borders.

World leaders are urging swift action. At Monday’s Petersberg Climate Dialogue, United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres warned that, if the world doesn’t engage in collective action soon, we’re headed for “collective suicide.” He noted that half of humanity is in danger zones from extreme storms, floods, wildfires and droughts. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called the current climate catastrophe “the greatest security challenge of our time.”

Supply chains must respond

Supply chains can — and definitely should — take steps to reduce our climate impacts. This is a key area of focus at the ASCM CONNECT Annual Conference, where the Sustainability learning pillar will empower attendees to become a force for corporate social responsibility and business integrity.

Also, participants can get a sneak peek at “ASCM’s Top 10 Supply Chain Trends Coming in 2023” during an exciting panel discussion with ASCM Senior Research Manager Matthew Talbert. He will lead a conversation with Ulf Suerig of Abbott; Adam James, CSCP, CLTD, of C.H. Robinson; Amy Augustine, CSCP, of UScellular; and Amazon’s Carolina Watkins. Register today to join us in Chicago, September 18-20, and be one of the first to know which sustainability trends will be most critical in the coming year.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at abe@ascm.org.

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