Newsletter: Bank of England Publishes First Stress Test for Climate Risks

Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments on climate risk and resilience. This month we feature developments in scenario analysis for physical risks, highlight the European Union's guidance on climate risk disclosure and share the latest on financial climate risk and the need for resilience.

In Focus: Scenario Analysis for Physical Risk

Bank of England Publishes First Climate Risk Stress Test

Yesterday the Bank of England released specifications for integrating climate risk scenarios into its insurance industry's biennial stress tests. This "exploratory" exercise is an enormous step towards catalyzing a growing understanding of possible impacts of transition and physical climate risks on financial assets.

The guidance lays out potential impacts by providing sector-specific percentages of potential loss under three scenarios by sector and by region. These quantitative financial impact assumptions are not a projection but a starting point for the insurance industry to explore potential impacts of climate change on their portfolios.

The Bank of England leveraged Four Twenty Seven's analytics on climate risk exposure in equity and real estate markets to inform its assumptions about which sectors will experience the largest impacts. We explain how data on risk exposure in equities can be leveraged for this type of analysis in our new blog series on scenario analysis.

The Bank of England also recently released a practitioner's guide for assessing the financial impacts of physical climate change, to help the insurance sector address climate risks.

Blog Series: Scenario Analysis for Physical Climate Risk

Our new blog series provides our reflections on how corporations and financial institutions can integrate physical climate risk into scenario analysis. Scenario analysis for physical risk is fundamentally different from transition risk. Corporations and investors increasingly recognize the need to integrate physical risk into scenario analysis but are looking for guidance and best practices on how to proceed.

Our first blog focuses on the foundations, demonstrating how characteristics of climate science affect how climate data can be used to inform scenario analysis. We argue that because physical risks over the next 10-20 years are largely independent from policy decisions and emission pathways, investors would be better served by scenario analysis that focuses on the inherent uncertainty of projected impacts, independent from assumptions on GHG emission scenarios. 

The next blog focuses on Equity Markets, with concrete examples of how available data can inform financial stakeholders ready to start putting scenario analysis into action. We look at data on climate risk exposure by sector to explore how climate risk analytics can inform early developments of stress test assumptions, as done by the Bank of England.  
Read the Blogs
EU Technical Expert Group
Releases Guidance
Yesterday the European Commission released its final guidance on integrating climate change into corporate disclosuresThis guidance applies to 6,000 companies, banks and insurers in Europe and maps to the TCFD recommendations. The guidance includes key recommendations from Advancing TCFD Guidance for Physical Risks and Opportunities, published by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and GCECA last year, for which Four Twenty Seven was a lead author. 
The EU also released the Technical Expert Group (TEG) report on a taxonomy for activities that contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation. The taxonomy aims to help investors and policymakers understand which economic activities contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy, through both mitigation and resilience. It outlines qualitative screening criteria to identify adaptation of economic activities and adaptation by economic activities, providing activity-specific examples for a range of sectors. The proposed taxonomy is still under legislative review.
Second TCFD Status Report
While more firms are releasing TCFD disclosures, investors call for an increase in informative disclosure of the financial impact of climate risks. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) released its second progress report earlier this month, emphasizing that the quality of risk disclosures must continue to improve as firms build their understanding and capacity to address climate risks. 91% of surveyed firms said they plan to at least partially implement the TCFD recommendations, but only 67% plan to complete implementation within the next three years. This progress must be accompanied by continued knowledge sharing and research on financial risk pathways for climate impacts, meaningful exposure data and best practices for reporting.

Even as TCFD reporting increases, quantitative assessment of physical risk exposure lags behind. Explore physical climate risk reporting by French firms in our analysis of physical risk in Article 173 reports and stay tuned for Four Twenty Seven's forthcoming analysis on physical risk disclosure in TCFD reports.
Investors Factor Climate Risk into Decisions
The past month has seen a flurry of news around the business risks of climate change and the financial sector response. CDP's annual climate change report estimates that 215 companies could incur around $1 trillion in climate-related costs if they don't prepare for these impacts. Companies expect these costs to begin accumulating in around five years. While some are not yet acting, others are, such as Japanese Hitachi Ltd preparing for increased rainfall in Southeast Asia and Brazilian Bank, Banco Santander, considering how increased water stress may damage borrowers' ability to repay loans. 

Alison Martin of Zurich Insurance Group told a meeting of CFOs that physical risks such as drought, extreme heat and flooding will be "incredibly meaningful." She emphasizes that the first step in integrating climate change into planning is for a company to understand its risk exposure. Meanwhile investors say they are increasingly factoring physical climate risk into their decision-making to minimize their risk and increase returns. Four Twenty Seven's on-demand scoring of real assets and analysis of asset-level risk in equity portfolios enables both corporations and investors to understand their exposure and strategically address physical climate risks.
Devastating Impacts Call for Preparation

Catastrophic Midwest Flooding Has Rippling Impacts

At the end of May only 58% and 29% of the U.S. corn and soy crops had been planted respectively. After persistent flooding beginning in Mid-March, inundated fields delayed planting. This means that some farmers will miss the planting window, which closes in June due to the heat and dryness of later summer months.
Those crops that do get planted will have to overcome soggy soil conditions and will remain at the peril of the summer's weather. It's already clear that this will be a below average crop yield, which translates into  more expensive corn in cattle feed and higher prices in grocery stores.

The Climate Connection

While the Mississippi River continues to swell, extreme precipitation has recently hit Houston and the Southeast with damaging floods. The past 12 months have been the wettest on record for the U.S. The national average of 37.7 inches since last June is 7.7 inches above average. 
A weak El Niño likely contributed to increased rainfall, but climate change also plays a role as warmer air holds more water. This month also saw record high temperatures in the western U.S., caused by a bulging jet stream making warm air flow south to north. While this does happen naturally, it may be happening more often due to warming ocean waters. This jet stream activity also contributes to other extreme events like the Midwest flooding.

The Need to Rethink Preparedness

From floods and heat waves to fires and hurricanes, federal recovery efforts for extreme events have cost almost half a trillion dollars since 2005. As disasters become more common and costs increase, there is an urgent need to invest in resilience proactively rather than spending billions on recovery. Last fall's Disaster Recovery Reform Act made an
important step by allowing FEMA to use a small portion of its disaster relief funding for risk mitigation ahead of disasters. However, this is the start of what must be a systemic shift in addressing extreme events. “If we don’t want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on recovering for disaster, we need to spend tens of billions [on resilience],” Four Twenty Seven Strategic Advisor, Josh Sawislak, told Bloomberg.

"There is a silver lining to our climate challenges — economic growth. Americans are very good at innovating and building and we can leverage our need to be more resilient by growing the economy with good resilient and sustainable jobs," Sawislak wrote.
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