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Climate action changes – practical implementation strategies



The recent ISO amendment requires organisations with certified quality management systems (and other MSSs) to review information related to internal and external issues including interested parties, relevant to its operations and climate change.

This article explains the changes and suggests proactive implementation strategies.


ISO 9001 clauses

Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of all ISO 9001-based standards are affected (e.g. AS9100 series)

4.1 Understanding the organization and its context.

The organization shall determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s) of its quality management system.

Added: The organization shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue.


4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties.

The organization shall determine:

•          the interested parties that are relevant to the quality management system.

•          the relevant requirements of these interested parties.

•          which of these requirements will be addressed through the quality management system.

Added: NOTE: Relevant interested parties can have requirements related to climate change.

Climate change adaption and mitigation will now be placed very firmly on the radar for millions of organizations around the world as one of many issues within their context requiring consideration, and relevant to their ongoing resilience, sustainability, and success.

IAF and ISO jointly emphasise that CLIMATE CHANGE is a vital topic and, while the addition of climate considerations is highly important, the standards have always included the need for all issues affecting Management System Standards (MSSs) to be considered by organizations.

Intent of the changes

The intent of the ‘ISO community’ is to ensure that CLIMATE CHANGE issues are considered by organizations in the context of the effectiveness of their management system, in addition to all other issues.

High profile actions are required to ensure that this important topic is not overlooked and considered by all organizations, in particular, in the design and implementation of their quality management system (QMS).

The overall intent of the requirements for clauses 4.1 and 4.2 remain unchanged. The exiting clauses already include the need for organizations to consider all internal and external issues that can impact the effectiveness of their QMSs. The new Requirement and Note are assuring that CLIMATE CHANGE is now considered to be a mandatory requirement within the QMS.

A common misconception is that CLIMATE CHANGE considerations are limited to organizations that have chosen to implement an environmental management system (e.g. ISO 14001). In fact, most organizations are likely to be affected by CLIMATE CHANGE in one way or another and may have already adapted to it in order to continue to meet their current purpose, objectives and strategic direction. Consequently, many certified organizations (including TEC Transnational) have already taken CLIMATE CHANGE into account.

Targets for climate change

An organization’s QMS is all about the customer, processes, suppliers and products/services. Climate-related risks should be taken into consideration, which could include –

  • Product lifecycle – consider the environmental impact of products throughout the life cycle, which includes raw materials, production, logistics, decommissioning and disposal

  • Production efficiency – consider the improvement of waste management, lower carbon footprint of in-house and supplier operations

  • Customer expectations – consider that customers may increasingly demand products/services that are more sustainable and eco-friendlier

  • Supply Chain management – consider what external climate changes could impact the stability of the supply chain. Severe weather events impacting transport or accessibility, availability of natural resources or even insurance and financial risks that lead to higher premiums


Actually, the existing 9100 series clauses where climate change impacts could have been considered (prior to the ISO Amendment) would be –

  • Clause 4.1 – would or should have already considered external issues, including climate change.

  • Clause 4.2 – interested parties, including customers, suppliers and regulators would all have climate change related needs and expectations

  • Clause 5.2.1 – stablishing the quality policy and including the climate change effects.

  • Clause 6.1.2 – hazard identification should already have identified these new hazards and risks influenced by climate change and relevant to the activities conducted.

  • Clause 8.1 – operational planning and control should consider the risks identified from climate change and implement the relevant controls.

  • Clause 8.5.1 p. – monitoring the use of utilities and supplies to minimize waste.

  • Clause 9.3.2 b. – changes in external and internal issues that are relevant to the QMS.

  • Clause 9.3.3 – risks identified with special attention to climate change.

  • Clause 10.1 – determining/selecting opportunities for improvement in respect of carbon footprint and climate change effects and implementation of any necessary actions.

  • Clause 10.3 – making climate change a specific consideration when implementing improvement activities


Immediate actions

  • Immediately add ‘climate change’ to management review inputs (Clause 9.3.2)

  • Undertake a SWOT or PESTLE analysis with top management – specifically including climate change and carbon footprint

  • Review the existing (documented) quality policy to have reference to climate change

  • Ensure that climate change issues are considered during new product introduction (APQPAS9145)

  • Monitor the use of utilities and supplies to reduce usage and minimize waste

  • Make climate change and carbon footprint high-profile issues when conducting management review

  • Always consider climate change issues when selecting improvement activities and be sure to evaluate the effectiveness of the results


Finally, remember that ‘the consideration’ of climate change in the context of an organization’s QMS, is about –

what impact operations have on climate change

what climate change does to impact operations

Consideration this ‘two-way’ impact it is a balancing act for organizations and will lead to a positive change.


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