Risks and opportunities

As a result of this shift, corporations are finding that they need to adapt to certain legal and social demands that subject them to a wide range of risks they must attempt to mitigate, including the following:

  •  First of all are the reputational risks involved; brand image may be affected if stakeholders in general perceive a negative attitude on the part of the company.
  • Regulatory risks also arise, associated with the need to adapt the company to new legislative frameworks, entailing costs that may render certain activities unviable.
  • Legal risks take on a great deal of importance, for more stringent legislation may give rise to an increase in the number of lawsuits involving non-compliance.
  • Furthermore, there are physical risks entailed: Climate change could create problems for installations and lead to serious consequences; the truth, however, is that there will be no need to wait for the first significant environmental effects to be appreciated for climate change to have an impact on business activity. At the beginning of 2010, a cold snap caused serious damage to Florida orange crops, with the knock-on effects rapidly moving to the financial markets, where the price of orange juice rose sharply. The sadly famous earthquake in Haiti caused significant damage to the region, and the repercussions thereof were felt around the world, as many countries embraced commitments to provide financial assistance, which necessarily takes resources away from other territories and activities. Furthermore, the European air traffic crisis resulting from the eruption of a volcano in Iceland provides a further prime example of a localized environmental incident bringing on a global crisis, accentuated by the rigidity of our actions coupled with the fact that our economic systems do not incorporate these types of situations into their analysis and lack the corresponding flexibility in their response capability.
  • Risks associated with corporate value, in that sustainability indices assess companies according to their sustainability policies, thereby guiding investors.
  • Finally, there are other risks that are difficult to evaluate, such as market changes. For example, rising pressure to lower emissions may afford certain territories an advantage over others due to their natural resources (access to solar radiation, for instance), thereby altering the competitive balance.


Nevertheless, just as these risks surface, so do new business opportunities that coincide with the risks, albeit in the opposite direction:

  • Reputational opportunities. Businesses with a proactive approach to climate change will be favored by customers, who will take their hard work into account..
  • Regulatory opportunities. Boosting innovation in certain business undertakings that may simultaneously lead to lower costs and a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Oportunidades legales.
  • Legal opportunities. As competing companies that do not abide strictly with prevailing legislation see their costs go up as a result of environmental lawsuits, organizations which duly fulfill their commitments will have the chance to be more competitive.
  • Other opportunities. Sustainability-related innovations in which Abengoa is currently working (solar energy, sea and ocean power, hydrogen technology, energy efficiency, second-generation biofuels, CO2 capture and valorization, etc.) have the potential to become the key businesses of the future. 

Sustainability policy must help to manage both the risks and the opportunities associated with climate change and sustainability. This makes it necessary, on the one hand, to ascertain, understand and manage all types of risks, and, on the other, to identify, gauge and manage potential opportunities, all of which hinges on appropriate measurement tools, a suitable reporting system and plans for improvement. 

We must be sure to manage both the risks and the opportunities associated with climate change and sustainability