Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios – White Paper

At COP23 Four Twenty Seven and Deutsche Asset Management jointly released a white paper featuring a new approach to climate risk management in equity portfolios.  Measuring Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios showcases Four Twenty Seven’s Equity Risk Scoring methodology, which identifies hotspots in investment portfolios by assessing the geographic exposure of publicly-traded companies to climate change. Our methodology tackles physical risk head on by identifying the locations of corporate production and retail sites around the world and their vulnerability to climate change hazards, such as sea level rise, droughts, floods and tropical storms, which pose an immediate threat to investment portfolios.

Deutsche Asset Management is leveraging Four Twenty Seven’s Equity Risk Scores to satisfy institutional investors’ growing desire for more climate resilient portfolios and design new investment strategies. “This report is a major step forward to addressing a serious and growing risk that investors face. To keep advancing our efforts, we believe the investment industry needs to champion the disclosure of once-in-a-lifetime climate risks by companies so we can assess these risks even more accurately going forward,” said Nicolas Moreau, Head of Deutsche Asset Management.

Methodology

Four Twenty Seven’s equity scoring methodology includes Operations Risk, Supply Chain Risk and Market Risk:

  • Operations Risk involves screening thousands of facilities for their exposure to climate risks.
  • Supply Chain Risk assesses both the climate risk in countries that produce a company’s materials and the sensitivity of a company’s industry to climate-related resources such as water and land.
  • Market Risk captures how a company’s consumers may change their behavior due to climate variability.

Since different industries will respond to climate hazards differently, the analysis includes both geographic location and business sensitivity. For Operations Risk, Four Twenty Seven screens each corporate site for its exposure and sensitivity to a set of climate hazards that include extreme precipitation, sea level rise, hurricanes, heat stress, water stress and wildfires. To calculate Supply Chain Risk and  Market Risk, Four Twenty Seven uses companies’ financial data, such as revenues and production. The image below shows an example of extreme precipitation risk for 68,000 corporate sites belonging to France’s benchmark index CAC40 (France’s 40 largest public companies).

Findings

This comprehensive, data-driven scoring effort culminates in a composite physical risk score that allows for comparison and benchmarking of equities and indices.  This integrated measure provides a point of entry to understand and address climate risk, engage with corporations and identify risk mitigation strategies.

The white paper includes a relative ranking of CAC40 companies, as shown below.

Climate Risk in Asia

Asia is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Five out of six people in Asia live in climate hotspots. The Asian Development Bank warned that, without mitigation action, Asia will experience temperature rise of six degrees centigrade by the end of the century. Of extreme concern is the region’s vulnerability to sea level rise. For example, China leads the world in terms of coastal risk, with 145 million people and economic assets located on land threatened by rising seas.

To better understand the implications of these projections for financial markets, Four Twenty Seven mapped the physical climate risks for 500 large and mid-cap constituents of an Asia ex-Japan listed equity index. We found that many companies are highly vulnerable to sea level rise in the region. China’s Pearl River Delta is already experiencing a higher than average rate of sea level rise and has many assets that would be exposed to flood risk in a two-meter flood scenario (see below). Many of these are energy assets which are long-lived and high value capital assets that cannot easily be relocated, requiring protection from rising seas if they are not decommissioned.

An explicit example of the economic impacts of extreme weather events and the resulting damage to assets can be seen in the Thailand floods of 2011. This event led to vast repercussions across industries, including car manufacturers, Thailand’s rice industry and even tourism. While these events were most damaging in Thailand, negative impacts were felt internationally. For example, the production of hard drive manufacturers like Toshiba and Western Digital was stalled due to the floods, which affected companies like Lenovo that depend on Asian manufacturing.

Accessing our Data

Four Twenty Seven’s ever-growing database now includes close to one million corporate sites and covers over 1800 publicly-traded companies. We offer subscription products and advisory services to access this unique dataset. Options include data feeds, an interactive analytics platform and company scorecards, as well as custom portfolio analysis and benchmarking.

Read the White Paper and contact us for more information about our products for financial institutions and corporations.

Market Analysis of Adaptation and Resilience Investment Opportunities

Four Twenty Seven led a comprehensive market analysis and feasibility study for a multilateral development bank to help catalyze and mobilize private capital investment in adaptation and resilience. The study included:

  • Current investments in adaptation and resilience from public and private investors;
  • An assessment of vulnerability, readiness and adaptation potential by region and by country;
  • An analysis of commercial viable adaptation interventions and technologies that ca be scaled or replicated, by sector;
  • Identification of barriers and bottlenecks to private sector investment in adaptation & resilience
  • Development of solutions to overcome barriers, create an enabling environment, and mobilize flows of capital into adaptation investment, in particular for infrastructure and SME resilience

What Brexit Means for Climate

Reposted from The Huffington Post, The Blog, view it on HuffPo HERE.

Image courtesy: Free Range Stock, photographer Daniel J Schreiber “London Landscape"

BOTTOM LINE

  • In the short run, Brexit means, at the very least, delays and complications in the process towards the ratification of the Paris Accord.
  • The financial volatility caused by the referendum’s outcome could distract the worlds’ financial regulators and have a negative impact on current efforts to better regulate climate-related financial disclosures.
  • Looking ahead, the incoming Eurosceptic government in the UK is unlikely to make climate change its priority, depriving global climate negotiations from a leader and political engine towards more ambitious GHG cuts.
  • In a worst case scenario, a full-blown global economic crisis would set back investments in clean energy, cut budget for both mitigation and adaptation efforts, and fuel further discontent from the middle-class and the unemployed.
  • Over the long run, a possible “contagion” effect enabling populist victories in upcoming elections in the US, Spain, France or Germany over the next 12 months could further hamper the enactment of effective global climate policy.

ANALYSIS

Political Implications: Impact on the Paris Accord

The only certainty regarding the impact of Brexit on climate policy comes from the extensive political uncertainty and financial volatility the referendum outcome has triggered. As the political debate turns towards the process for the UK to exit from the EU and deepening internal tensions between the UK and the “pro remain” constituents within Scotland and Northern Ireland, this uncertainty will at a minimum cause a temporary slowdown of the ratification process of the Paris Accord.

The ratification process was already expected to be long and complex for the EU. Each country has to approve the ratification domestically before the EU as a whole ratifies the accord. In the context of such a lengthy process, we think it is highly unlikely the lame-duck Cameron government would stick its neck out and push for a rapid ratification of the accord in the next three months, before its scheduled October departure. It is unclear how the UK will affect the EU ratification process during the two years preceding Britain’s formal exit from the EU.

This leaves the next government in charge of a possible ratification. Leading candidate for British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who are credited with driving the success of the Leave vote, both do not believe in or prioritize climate change, casting a shadow of uncertainty over whether the UK might actually ratify the Paris accord at all.

However, the Paris Accord requires the ratification from 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions to come into forces. A refusal from the UK to ratify would send a negative signal but a single country representing 2 percent of global emissions would not bring the global process to an end. While the UK has historically been a driving force in global and EU climate negotiations, we expect the new UK government will at best be a follower, at worst a laggard and opposing force in global climate policy.

Beyond Britain: The Rise of Populism

While the direct political implications of the referendum on UK climate policy are quite predictable, we cannot rule out a potential ripple effect on the willingness from other countries to ratify the Paris accord. More generally, the UK vote signals that current populist trends in the world’s largest economies – U.S., France, Germany in particular – could bring a deep reshuffling of cards for climate policy. Populists parties are typically lukewarm, if not outright opposed to climate policy and global agreements, as illustrated by the so-called Trump Trajectory in the U.S.

A rise in climate-sceptic governments could bring to a halt the progress brought about by the Paris accord and set us back toward a high carbon emission pathway. At this point in time, however, we believe most governments have a robust understanding of the seriousness of the issue of climate change, and will do their best to proceed with the accord ratification and with meeting their targets.

Financial Implications: Impact on Efforts to Regulate and Price Climate Risk

A very immediate impact from Brexit-induced financial volatility and risk of recession will be felt on efforts to better understand, regulate and price climate-related risks on financial markets. The very institutions and individuals that have been leading this effort globally – the Financial Stability Board and its Chair, Mark Carney, who is also the Chair of the Bank of England, as well as to some extent the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., are going to be entirely focused on preventing a complete collapse of the British economy and a global recession. This will necessarily cause distraction away from the recent efforts to push climate change higher on the agenda of financial decision-makers.

Assuming the world’s financial leaders are successful in preventing a global recession and the volatility of financial markets continues, we expect the discussion to resume and allow the recommendations from the Task Force on Financial Climate-Related Disclosure to garner the attention needed from global financial regulatory bodies.

However, if Britain’s decision to leave the EU were to cause continued turmoil on financial markets around the world, leading to a major recession, the impacts on climate change policy could be extensive, and mostly negative. Recessions in general are bad for the environment because jobs and financial volatility typically take precedence on the political agenda over environmental regulations and climate policy, often perceived as putting added burden on the economy. A global recession could lead to budget cuts and increased contention over energy and climate budgets, and otherwise lead to a scale back of efforts to reduce emissions.

Financial instability also means a setback for investments in clean energy, with financial flows likely to flock towards safe havens (U.S. bonds, gold) and away from riskier investments.  Expectations of trade financing faltering, credit spreads narrowing, emerging markets assets under serious stress and a worse-than-expected earnings season, impacting equity valuations all point to less money for adaptation in developing countries and a further slowdown in renewables investment levels.

Conclusion

The UK’s decision to leave the EU puts both financial markets and climate policy to the test. Financial markets were still slowly recovering from the second greatest recession in the history of modern markets, and this is where the main uncertainty stands at the time of writing. Short term volatility may bring distractions but unlikely to drive a meaningful change of course away from greater climate risk disclosures. If continued economic turmoil materialized, it could slow down investments in clean energy and put climate and environmental issues on the back burner once again.

By Emilie Mazzacurati and Camille LeBlanc

Image courtesy: Free Range Stock, photographer Daniel J Schreiber “London Landscape”

 

Redefining Climate Risk

Comment Letter from Four Twenty Seven to Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. (Download full letter here)

May 23, 2016

Dear Chairman Bloomberg,

Four Twenty Seven, Inc., a climate resilience research and advisory firm, is pleased to submit this letter of comment for your consideration and to help inform the work of the Task Force on Climate-Related Risk Disclosures (TCFD) during Phase II.

We commend you for the important work undertaken by the TCFD and your deliberate efforts to engage practitioners and stakeholders in providing input along the way. Providing guidance around climate risk disclosures is a critical step not only to help ensure financial markets will not be blindsided by predictable risks, but also to ensure that investors send the appropriate price signals to the decision-makers for the underlying assets – from corporate boards to public officials and real estate owners — thus providing an incentive to better prepare for and adapt to the physical impacts of climate change.

Our comments stem from years of working closely with Fortune 500 corporations to help them understand climate change impacts, quantify risk and monetize costs. We anticipate this type of analysis will need to become widespread for corporations to comply with the forthcoming guidance from the TCFD, and wanted to share our lessons learned from our past work.

Our comments, detailed below following the questionnaire structure, center around two key takeaways:

  1. The need to redefine climate risk to better account for direct and indirect risks related to the physical impacts of climate change. Regulatory, technology or transition risks are by no means confined to greenhouse gases, and focusing a disclosure framework only on extreme weather events and direct physical impacts would be deeply misguided. It is critical that corporations understand, address and disclosure their exposure to risks and opportunities related to transition risk due to:
  • Regulatory changes driven by climate change (e.g. changes in underground water regulation, permitting, zoning, etc.);
  • Costs and revenues associated with finding and deploying adaptive technologies to improve corporate resilience, mitigate risk exposure and promote more efficient resources use;
  • Costs associated with capital expenditure, retrofitting or moving facilities, infrastructure and other critical assets out of harm’s way.
  • Costs and revenues associated with increasing the company’s adaptive capacity, ranging from increased legal and insurance costs to investments in human capital, supply chain risk management, engagement with local governments to support climate adaptation efforts, and other public-private partnerships.
  • Macro-economic and financial risk for property owners, market risks for certain products, etc.

 

  1. The need to incorporate climate data into decision-making processes and provide vulnerability assessments at the asset-level for both corporations and investors.
  • Corporations need to utilize fully the wealth of climate data and projections that are available, and leverage sophisticated techniques and models to incorporate uncertainty into their decision processes.
  • Climate risk analysis must be performed at the asset-level, even if the final disclosures do not include all the asset-level data, and should rely on common standards, assumptions and scenarios to enable comparison across assets and across markets.
  • Risk assessments should be subject to third-party verification to ensure they are complete and cover all the material risks.

Download Four Twenty Seven’s Comment Letter (FourTwentySeven_PhaseI_CommentLetter) for our detailed analysis on climate risk reporting.

From Science to Action: Using Climate Science for Adaptation

We have all heard about the doomsday climate change can bring. Rising seas, blistering heat waves, and epic storms are but small samples from the chronicle of destruction possible due to climate risk.  When considering the doomsday scenarios, questions arise about where, when, and how these changes will take place.

Recent research from a team of climate scientist led by James Hansen posits that the timeframe in which we will begin to see the impacts from sea level rise and super storms, may be more severe and shorter than expected. The paper argues that the phenomenon of stratification (when melting freshwater from glacier melt disrupts the saline pumps of the deep ocean, causing warm water to collect at the bottom of the sea where it melts ice shelves) along with other feedback loops, have not been fully captured in previous climate models.

The Hansen Theory

Hansen and his team suggest that with the new math in place “ice mass loss from the most vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is better approximated as exponential than by a more linear response. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years.” In other words, ice melt that was previously thought to be occurring at a predictable rate is now potentially occurring at rate several times higher.

This is not the first time that the science has been updated and caught the eye of the media. As a result, climate scientists like James Hansen and Michael Mann have become well known in environmentalist circles.  In 2012, climate activist Bill McKibben became especially revered when his article in Rolling Stone Magazine: Climate Change’s Terrifying New Math gathered similar attention and reactions from the media as the Hansen report.

As suggested by the new research and steady stream of media updates, it is clear that climate science is a constantly evolving and improving practice. While it is true that the data points are becoming more robust, and new discoveries like stratification are being baked into the latest climate models, scientists will be the first to tell us that we still have a lot left to learn about how climate change is altering our earth’s systems.

Climate Scientist James Hansen stands by a 1000 ton boulder that is theorized to have been lifted by a super storm 120,000 years ago onto the cliffs of North Eleuthera in the Bahamas. At the time of the ancient storm, ocean temperature was only 1 degree C warmer than today.
Climate Scientist James Hansen stands by a 1000 ton boulder that is theorized to have been lifted by a super storm 120,000 years ago onto the cliffs of North Eleuthera in the Bahamas. At the time of the ancient storm, ocean temperature was only 1 degree C warmer than today.

Michael E. Mann, the scientist who popularized the classic hockey stick graph stated in response to the new report “Some of the claims in this paper are indeed extraordinary. They conflict with the mainstream understanding of climate change to the point where the standard of proof is quite high.”

Towards Climate Adaptation Science?

While the work climate scientists like Hansen and Michael Mann continues to advance the science, some members of the climate community are beginning to question the value of continuing to refine the accuracy of climate science. Suggesting instead that it may be time to refocus resources traditionally spent on increasing the degree of confidence towards adaptation science.

The argument is that after a certain point the ability for climate science to generate new insights is subject to diminishing returns. As such, it doesn’t matter as much to nail down exact predictions of when and where and by how much the impacts of climate change will hit, when we know they are already here and will continue to grow. With the climate science we have now, we are very good at projecting what 60 cm of sea level rise looks like, and how that sea level rise will impact our coasts. However, we are not great at knowing when that sea level rise will happen.

Those wanting to focus resources on adaption science argue that this distinction shouldn’t really matter. Think of the results of climate science like a high blood pressure reading, how bad the reading is doesn’t change the fact that you still have to go exercise and change your diet if you want to be healthier; and its better to hit the gym sooner rather than later.

Using Science for Decision-Support

This is not to say that advancements from Hansen and other climate scientists are irrelevant. On the contrary, it is extremely valuable work, but their findings provide information that should be used to spark interventions that buffer vulnerable regions from the worst of climate change.

At Four Twenty Seven we are picking up where the scientific reports stop. By translating the key warnings and lessons of climate science into strategies that can reduce financial, infrastructural, and social risk, we can prepare for the impacts of climate change regardless of when they occur. By analyzing, monitoring, and providing site specific insights into how climate change affects normal operations, we manage the complexities for stakeholders whose responsibilities cover a wide range of populations and global facilities.

“LIDAR data is often collected by air, such as with this NOAA survey aircraft (top) over Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, CA. Here, LIDAR data reveals a top-down (bottom left) and profile view of Bixby Bridge. NOAA scientists use LIDAR-generated products to examine both natural and manmade environments. LIDAR data supports activities such as inundation and storm surge modeling, hydrodynamic modeling, shoreline mapping, emergency response, hydrographic surveying, and coastal vulnerability analysis.” (source)
“LIDAR data is often collected by air, such as with this NOAA survey aircraft (top) over Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, CA. Here, LIDAR data reveals a top-down (bottom left) and profile view of Bixby Bridge. NOAA scientists use LIDAR-generated products to examine both natural and manmade environments. LIDAR data supports activities such as inundation and storm surge modeling, hydrodynamic modeling, shoreline mapping, emergency response, hydrographic surveying, and coastal vulnerability analysis.” (source)

Having reliable climate data and a robust understanding of the changes climate change has put in motion is a great starting point for determining risk factors. LIDAR data from NOAA and other hydrological data sets can be used to anticipate coastal vulnerability to climate charged changes like sea level rise.  NASA has its own set of valuable climate data, which has been used to map everything from melting ice in Greenland to diminishing wine grape harvests in France and Switzerland. Such robust and continuously updated datasets allow for meaningful vulnerability assessments that can inform effective adaptation plans.

Our team has been putting climate data like this to use for our clients. As part of our commitment to the White House Climate Data Initiative we created a dashboard tool of Heat and Social Inequity in the United States, designed to help health care providers understand the risks climate change poses to their community and hospital operations.  It’s through tools like this that we hope to help our clients prepare for the risks climate change presents to the businesses and communities they serve.

It is our hope that the science continues to advance, and new research like that presented by Hansen and his team continues to give us a better picture of the rate at which we can expect climate change to escalate. We also hope to use this information to advance the important work of adaptation. Solving climate change takes both good science and a roadmap forward.  A ‘climate doomsday’ becomes less scary when we realize the power is in our hands to be prepared regardless of when it happens.

Learn more about our work to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Climate Week NYC: The Quest for Climate Wisdom

Climate Week NYC always reminds me of a scavenger hunt. You have to make your way across the city, oblivious and buzzing, from one event to the other, sometime literally searching for the right building or event venue – but once you find it, a new world opens.

C2ES business resilience
Janet Peace moderates a panel on business resilience with with Melissa Lavinson from PG&E, Jay Bruns from The Hartford, and Roberta Barbieri from Diageo.

Dedicated groups of practitioners and experts gathered from all around the country to discuss the next big thing in climate adaptation, share their insights and look up to the next challenge.

On September 22nd, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) launched its new report Weathering the Next Storm, which analyzes how Fortune 100 corporations approach climate risk and resilience: what they’re concerned about, what they disclose, and what they’re doing – or not doing – about it. You can view the video recording of the event on YouTube, including the excellent panel on corporate best practices moderated by Janet Peace from C2ES.

C2ES’s series of reports on business climate resilience are among my favorites, and this report is no exception. The good news: the number of Fortune 100 companies that acknowledge that climate risk is material is growing. The bad news: they’re still not doing much about it, for four key reasons:

Climate data for business resilience

These challenges are also the ones we had identified in our 2015 Corporate Adaptation Survey, and what we work on solving, day in and out. You can find more on business resilience and key takawayrs from the C2ES report in this blog post.

On September 23rd our partners the Notre-Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) unveiled the recipients of the ND-GAIN 2015 Corporate Adaptation Prize, which recognizes excellence in climate adaptation for projects in countries below 60 on the NDGAIN Index.

Peter Williams from IBM and Aman Singh from Edelman discuss climate resilience and corporate adaptation.
Peter Williams from IBM and Aman Singh from Edelman discuss climate resilience and corporate adaptation.

A small Dutch company, DADTCO, and multinational giants AECOM’s and IBM’s Resilience Scorecard won the day. The panel discussion revolved a lot around how to incentivize resilience investments. Nick Shuffro from PwC pointed to the lack of price signal from the insurance industry, since companies that have invested in resilience do not get lower premium, while Peter Williams from IBM insisted we need to point to the return on investment (ROI) of resilience projects so they can compete with other investment opportunities in the business. I could not agree more.

Later that day, Triple Pundit had invited me to a Twitter chat on The Business Case for Climate Action ahead of COP21. The full recap of the Twitter chat, which also involved the Climate Reality Project and Novozyme, is here. In general, it’s worth noting we tweet live from all the events we attend – you can follow us @427climaterisk and @emazzacurati.

Tweettweet2

Last but not least, Risky Business Project held a fantastic event on September 24. The Climate Data Summit brought together a large swath of professionals dedicated to bringing climate science and climate data to business for a behind-the-scene conversation on technical and economic challenges in using climate data in a business setting. It’s hard to do justice to the rich conversations that unfolded in a short post, but you can listen to my remarks on “Listening to End-Users:Climate Data and the Bottom Line” in the audiocast here.

Did I find a treasure at the end of my Climate Week NYC scavenger hunt? Not one, but many nuggets of wisdom and new connections to continue down the path of our journey to climate resilience.

Emilie Mazzacurati

Supporting Climate Resilience in the Health Care Sector

WH_OSTP_400x400On April 7, 2015 the Obama Administration announced a series of actions and partnerships to help analyze and translate the linkages between climate change and public health impacts for policy makers and citizens alike. The actions build on the Climate Data Initiative, launched in 2014 and includes the release of 150 health related data-sets on “Health Resilience” adding to the existing 500 climate-related data sets now publicly accessible.

Four Twenty Seven is thrilled to take part in this exciting effort. In support of the Climate Data Initiative, Four Twenty Seven will leverage its proprietary model and risk assessment methodology to provide a climate risk assessment for 100 of the country’s health care facilities with large patient populations.

CoverPrimaryCare_Report_Dec2014Building on the vulnerability assessment framework developed as part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Resilience Toolkit, Four Twenty Seven will screen critical health facilities and deliver an interactive, publicly accessible online dashboard that enables users to identify risk hotspots, key drivers of risk, and the types of impacts faced by specific hospitals.

This analysis and dashboard will support decision-making by enabling policy makers to visualize at-risk assets, prioritize resources, and communicate the urgency of boosting climate resilience in health care facilities.

Public-Private Partnerships

This type of public private partnership is key to the Obama Administration’s efforts to leverage big data and technological innovation to address pressing public health issues that are exacerbated by climate impacts. The interactive tool that Four Twenty Seven develops through this partnership will inform decision-makers across sectors and will be publicly accessible creating new opportunities for communities nationwide to engage in this critical discussion.

Other private sector initiatives include efforts from Microsoft, Google, Esri (ArcGIS), EMC Technology and Harvard University, with the shared objective to leverage the new datasets into effective predicting technology and forecasting models.

Through leadership at the local, state and federal level, public health officials and experts have been working to identify the linkages between climate impacts and public health and, importantly, to share best practices and lessons learned to enable implementation of “win-win” solutions that simultaneously address climate change and improve health outcomes.

Actions from the Administration beyond public private partnerships include the development of new tools and guidance, cross-sector workshops to convene key stakeholders, the integration of climate considerations into departmental policies, and training of health care professionals.

Relevant Research and Guidance

Several important reports were also released on this occasion, including:

    • A draft assessment of the impacts of climate change on public health from the US Global Research Change Program
    • A new report from the Public Health Institute (PHI) titled Climate Change, Health and Equity: Opportunities for Action which provides a conceptual framework outlining how these issues are linked and provides recommended policy actions to advance solutions.
    • Adaptation in Action, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that outlines specific successes in a number of cities and regions that have taken action to reduce negative health outcomes from climate change.  In addition, the CDC plans to release a Health Care Facilities Toolkit to promote best practices in resilient health care infrastructure.
Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health. Source: CDC
Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health. Source: CDC
  • At the local level, the City of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health just released its first Climate and Health Profile which highlights the direct health effects of local climate impacts such as reduced air quality and rising temperatures and identifies areas of city that will be disproportionately impacted.

Four Twenty Seven is honored for the opportunity to leverage its models and climate risk assessment methodology to contribute to a greater understanding of vulnerability and resilience in the health care sector and to help bolster socio-economic resilience in the United States.

 

 

What are businesses doing to prepare for climate change?

Climate change has brought millions of dollars of damages to businesses over the past years, yet little is known about how businesses are preparing and planning for the physical impacts of climate change going forward.

Four Twenty Seven, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) and with support from Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), have launched the first annual State of Corporate Adaptation survey. The survey will provide a timely analysis of how businesses are addressing the need to adapt complex business operations to a changing climate.

Survey

  • How are global corporations preparing for climate change impacts?
  • What are the most pressing climate risks for your sector?
  • How are your competitors planning for extreme weather events?
  • What climate impacts should you be monitoring and why?

These are some of the questions at the heart of our research – this year’s answers and analysis will provide valuable insight for companies struggling to prioritize sustainability activities and will create a solid foundation to advance best practices in corporate adaptation.

While the public, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors have made great strides on issues associated with adaptation planning and implementation in recent years, the status of resilience building in the private sector is unclear at best. The CDP has successfully motivated some companies to prioritize transparency in sustainability reporting, however, as our climate continues to change, it becomes more and more imperative that we have a collective understanding of current corporate adaptation activities and the barriers that are inhibiting real progress.

Understanding how the private sector is preparing for the impacts of climate change is crucial to socio-economic resilience at large.
Climate adaptation will require public-private sector collaboration.

As our understanding of global climate risks continues to grow, companies are struggling to efficiently prepare for climate induced shocks and stressors that threaten global economic stability. In recent years, the CDP supply-chain analysis has shown that more than 70 percent of corporate respondents anticipate that climate impacts will disrupt their supply chains.

Our goal is to further our collective understanding of the challenges corporations face when addressing climate risk as well as to highlight best practices and potential strategies that advance resilience building across sectors and communities.

We know that the potential costs of corporate inaction are great. Missed opportunities to reduce recovery costs, increase resilience and leverage public sector adaptation efforts are not only unfortunate, but could greatly diminish the private sector’s ability respond to climate threats in a way that keeps our economy thriving.

The first annual State of Corporate Adaptation survey will create a critical baseline of knowledge for all stakeholders and will highlight the issues that are most critical to corporations striving to stay competitive in a changing climate.

The completely anonymous survey results will be summarized to reveal important insights and will be released in a public report along with practical guidance and ideas for next steps in corporate adaptation at the National Adaptation Forum on May 11th, 2015.

Help support our collective understanding of business climate resilience, take the survey now.

About the partnership:

ND-GAIN is a university research center dedicated to enhancing the world’s understanding of the importance of adaptation and facilitating private and public investments in vulnerable communities, Four Twenty Seven is a climate risk analytics and adaptation firm, and BSR is global nonprofit business network dedicated to sustainability. We work with companies and organizations around the globe to address climate risk and build resilience and conduct research to advance these efforts.

For more information on the survey or to provide additional feedback please contact Aleka Seville.

Five Ways to Improve your Climate Risk Reporting

CeresS&P500DisclosureRate
Climate Disclosure By S&P 500 Companies: 10-Ks Filed 2009-2013. Source: Ceres 2014.

More companies report climate risks, but few do it well

According to Ceres, just shy of 60 percent of S&P 500 companies report climate risks in their financial disclosures (10-K), but the quality of disclosures is going down over time. “Most S&P 500 climate disclosures in 10-Ks are very brief, provide little discussion of material issues, and do not quantify impacts or risks” writes Ceres in Cool Response: the SEC & Corporate Climate Change Reporting. Companies typically include no more than “one short paragraph or a couple of lines focused on climate-related risks or opportunities.”

Uncertainty or Complacency?

three wise monkeysWhy are companies so shy in disclosing climate risks? Part of the answer is that the uncertainty around climate change hazards – their magnitude, timeliness or location – make it difficult for companies to assess whether the risks qualify as “material”. More often than not, however, the timid reporting has more to do with the lack of a systematic risk analysis, backed by an established methodology and solid benchmarks. Politics and concerns over liability also play a role in a hushed reporting tone, whereby companies may think they are better off avoiding the topic altogether rather than providing partial and potentially inaccurate information.

Thinking Beyond Carbon Regulatory Risk

The potential for quality climate risk disclosure is often much higher in CDP reports, which effectively prods for detailed answers. In its Global 500 Climate Change 2013 report, CDP points to “a seismic shift in corporate awareness of the need to assess physical risk from climate change and to build resilience.”
Yet, the same report highlights a common shortfall among reporters: “Companies tend to focus on tangible risks in areas such as carbon taxes or energy prices, whereas the benefits from climate related opportunities are often less tangible, such as changing consumer behavior. (…) This suggests that businesses may be missing some significant risks and opportunities because valuation methods are unavailable.”

Most risks and opportunities reported to CDP are related to carbon regulations.
Most risks and opportunities reported to CDP are related to carbon regulations. Source: CDP 2013

Five Ways to Improve your Climate Risk Reporting

Accurately identifying risks and opportunities and developing a strategic adaptation plan are crucial to a company’s long term’s profitability. How can you better identify climate risks & opportunities, reduce your vulnerability, and improve your reporting score?
Focus on the Big Ticket Items: for an initial risk screening, you’re better off focusing on your assets and facilities with the highest embedded value. While imperfect, this will help you identify low-hanging fruits and gain support from your management for a more comprehensive analysis.
Be Timely: climate change is not all about floods, drought or hurricanes. When looking at assets with a long life span, you should consider gradual changes in temperature and precipitation, which could drive utility costs up, as well as sea-level rise and the increased likelihood of storm surge.
Think global: an effective analysis will identify and benchmark risks and opportunities across your entire value chain, not just your own operations. Examine your suppliers and your extended supply chain network, your distributors and your customers. The main source of risk could be in your market or in one of the raw materials you depend on.
Act local: your adaptation response needs to be crafted individually for each location. You may need to consider traditional risk management tools, such as insurance, along with non-traditional methods geared specifically to the local circumstances of your facility, supplier or distributor.
Be a Team Player: climate change is not a problem that can be solved alone. A robust adaptation strategy will require meaningful engagement with local stakeholders and partnerships with public agencies.

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