July 15, 2018 – 427 ANALYSIS: Record-setting rains in Japan led to floods and landslides that disrupted business operations of automobile manufacturers, electronic companies and others. Understanding the ownership and operations of facilities located in the damaged areas provides insight into what companies and industries may exhibit downturns in performance over the near term and be vulnerable to similar storms in the future.
Japan was the inundated by over 70 inches of rain in early July, an event that resulted in significant loss of life and business disruptions. The clouds have since receded, leaving economic damage with long-term implications yet to be understood. However, estimates expect industry losses to be in the billions USD. Destruction was centered in Okayama and Hiroshima, driven by flooding and landslides.
Typhoons Prapiroon and Maria contributed to this rainfall and climate scientists expect a warmer climate to increase the severity of these storms. Japan has fewer preparations in place for floods than it does for other extreme events, and understanding the various manifestations of risk caused by extreme rainfall is essential to mitigating damage in the future.
Much of Okayama sits immediately below mountains, which makes it particularly exposed to devastating landslides following significant rainfall events. Bursting pipes and power outages led over 250,000 homes in the Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures to go without water for several days after the floods. Landslides destroyed homes and exacerbated infrastructure damage caused by flooding.
Many business operations were severely impacted by these events as well, and some facilities remain closed. Companies such as Panasonic experienced physical damage due to flooded facilities, and others were impacted by damaged infrastructure and communities, impacting their supply chains and workforce.
Okayama and Hiroshima are centers of economic activity for a number of key sectors in Japan, hosting production facilities for auto manufacturing, consumer electronics, retail trade and others. The figure below highlights the concentration of facilities of companies in the auto manufacturing industry by the sector of their operations. Companies that rely heavily on manufacturing operations are particularly vulnerable to flooding due in part to their utilization of expensive equipment that can easily incur water damage.
The heavy rainfalls showed no favorites in their disruption of manufacturing facilities across industries. For example, Mitsubishi and Mazda halted operations at some factories during the storms, due in part to supply chain disruptions. Many companies were also forced to pause operations because employees couldn’t get to work. While Mazda’s headquarters in Hiroshima Prefecture and a production facility in Yamaguchi Prefecture weren’t damaged themselves, they remained closed after the storms until employees could return to work safely. Likewise IHI Corp. closed its No. 2 Kure factory in Hiroshima because of water shortages and employees’ commute challenges.
The extent of long-term economic impacts that these companies will bear in the aftermath of last week’s storms is not yet known, but merits ongoing examination as the region recovers. Understanding the location of a corporation’s facilities and their exposure to extreme weather events is a key starting point for gauging exposure, and therefore can be instrumental in understanding company’s future performance.
Four Twenty Seven’s extensive facility level database can help investors proactively identify their portfolio companies’ exposures both to chronic climate effects and to individual extreme weather events such as the extreme rainfall that beset Okayama and Hiroshima. This deeper understanding can drive better risk-return tradeoffs, and importantly, shareholder engagement strategies that foster investments in resilience.
This Four Twenty Seven webinar on emerging metrics and best practices for physical climate risks and opportunities disclosures covers recent developments in TCFD and Article 173 reporting, challenges to assessing climate risk exposure, strategies for investors to incorporate this information into decision-making and approaches to build corporate resilience.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA) have announced details of their conference, “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk & opportunities.” A culmination of their initiative focused on building climate resilience in the financial sector, the conference will share findings on physical risk and resilience metrics from three expert working groups. Read the press release below, originally published on EBRD’s website:
Findings of industry working groups will be published ahead of the event “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk and opportunities”
The EBRD and GCECA are hosting an event “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk and opportunities”, which will be held on 31 May 2018 at the EBRD’s headquarters in London.
Findings about physical climate risk and opportunity disclosure by industry-led working groups, which have been meeting at the EBRD’s headquarters since 2017, will be released at the conference.
This event will build on the recommendations of the TCFD, headed by Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg. These recommendations highlight a growing concern over the effects of climate change on the economy and financial markets, and the need for investors to be able to assess climate-related risks.
At the conference, senior representatives from the financial, business and regulatory communities will discuss the development of metrics for disclosing physical climate risk and opportunities, and the integration of these disclosures into decision-making.
The confirmed high-level speakers at the conference will include:
The panelists will represent a rich variety of market leaders such as Aon, Citi, Maersk, Moody’s and Standard Chartered, as well as the Bank of England, the French Treasury and the European Commission.
Findings from the expert working groups will also be published. The working groups include representatives from Allianz, APG, Aon, Bank of England, Barclays, BlackRock, Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, Citi, DNB, DWS, Lightsmith Group, Lloyds, Meridiam Infrastructure, Moody’s, OECD, S&P Global, Shell, Siemens, Standard Chartered, USS and Zurich Asset Management. An expert team led by Acclimatise and Four Twenty Seven is providing the Secretariat function to the working groups.
TCFD recommendations, released for the G20 summit in June 2017, call for the inclusion of metrics on physical climate risk and opportunities into financial disclosures by corporations and financial institutions. This is echoed in the recommendations of the European Union’s High Level Expert Group on sustainable finance, released in January 2018, and the Action Plan from the European Commission released in March 2018.
Last month the EBRD become a TCFD supporter, the first multilateral development bank to do so. The EBRD’s 2017 Sustainability Report, to be released later this month, will provide an initial outline of how TCFD recommendations relate to the Bank’s operations. The conference on 31 May will be an important milestone in the Bank’s support for the TCFD process.
Since 2006 the EBRD has invested over €22 billion in projects under its Green Economy Transition approach. Energy efficiency and environmental sustainability have been a priority for the Bank since its creation in 1991.
April 25, 2018 – 427 TECHNICAL BRIEF. Financial institutions, corporations, and governments increasingly strive to identify and respond to risks driven by physical climate impacts. Understanding the risks posed by climate change for facilities or infrastructure assets starts with conducting a risk assessment, which requires an understanding of the physical impacts of climate change. However, climate data in its raw form is difficult to integrate into enterprise risk management, financial risk modelling processes, and capital planning. This primer provides a brief introduction to climate models and data from a business or government perspective.
The first of several reports explaining the data and climate hazards analyzed in Four Twenty Seven’s equity risk scores and portfolio analytics, Using Climate Data unpacks the process through which raw climate data is transformed into usable metrics, such as future temperature projections, to help financial, corporate and government users productively incorporate climate-based analytics into their workflows. Beginning by explaining what a global climate model is, the report explains climate data’s format, computational choices to hedge uncertainty and resources for aggregated climate projections tailored to specific audiences.
We chat with our new Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas, about his motivations to join Four Twenty Seven after almost 30 years in finance and fintech, and his vision for new products and markets in climate analytics.
Why did you decide to join Four Twenty Seven?
First and foremost, the fact that our firm provides data-driven analytics that quantify real issues facing our planet today is very attractive to me. I have spent my entire career in finance and, like others, have increasingly come to see the need for alignment of investment decisions with those that preserve the future of our planet. To me, Four Twenty Seven’s mission and vision exist at the center of this nexus.
When I encountered the Four Twenty Seven white paper on climate risk in equity markets, I was impressed by the level of thought-leadership embedded in the research, and by the high level of quantitative rigor applied to the development of its risk scores. The acceleration of climate’s influence on corporate performance are upon us, and investors are rapidly awakening to the risks that climate change brings to financial markets. Four Twenty Seven’s sophisticated climate data analytics are at the forefront of identifying the most exposed corporations and assets globally.
My career to date has been focused on the development of analytical solutions for institutional investors, ranging from multi-factor risk models at Barra (now MSCI) to the solutions we built in my previous company, Pluribus Labs, where we combined data science and natural language processing with quantitative modeling to distill a variety of unstructured data sources into investible signals.
In my subsequent conversations with Emilie and the Four Twenty Seven team, I quickly came to realize that Four Twenty Seven’s research methodology really resonated with me, and that the culture here is fabulous. It’s rare that you have an opportunity to do what you love and also provide solutions that impact the planet’s future — my role at Four Twenty Seven enables me to do just that!
How is technology spurring innovation in research around financial risk?
There are a number of drivers at play in this respect. First and perhaps most obviously, the availability of computing power at our fingertips makes data analysis on large data sets more available and more affordable than ever before. If you had told me when I started my career that I would be able to create an account on a cloud computing platform like Google’s GCP or Microsoft’s Azure and have massive amounts of compute power available within minutes, I wouldn’t have believed you! Four Twenty Seven’s ability to distill terabytes of climate data from an ensemble of models into actionable insights at the asset level is a great way to leverage this computing power.
Relatedly, the ubiquity of meaningful data, both unstructured and structured, also provides a much broader set of lenses through which to view the world. Financial research has always focused on the development of insights from any and all available data sources on companies, industries and economies. Today, an ever-increasing volume of data sources are accessible for analysis. For example, features extracted from satellite images of our planet can be used to arrive at estimates on a wide variety of metrics, ranging from crop yields to consumer brand sales changes. Similarly, observations gleaned from the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) can provide us with insights into weather trends and CO2 emissions at the sub-city level. Moving forward, opportunities afforded by organizations’ self-reporting of their climate risks and mitigation plans specifically related to climate change will provide additional data points for firms like ours to incorporate into our ground truth analysis of companies, industries and economies.
Couple these two trends with increasingly sophisticated machine learning and feature extraction techniques and you wind up with tremendous opportunities to develop insights into both the physical risks of climate change and the steps that companies are taking to mitigate these risks.
What are the priorities during your first year at Four Twenty Seven?
Emilie and the team have translated their broad and deep base of intellectual property into purpose-built solutions for a number of key market segments in the financial sector. These solutions enable asset owners and investors alike to understand their holdings’ exposure to the physical reality of climate change.
Our goals for this year are to continue tuning our existing offerings through engagement with our clients and to position the firm for its next phase of growth. Thanks to entities like the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), market participants are increasingly aware of the need to incorporate climate risk analytics into their investment process, and we will continue to evangelize this message in our own interactions with the investment community. We are currently in fundraising mode and will use proceeds from our capital raise to support plans to leverage our proprietary facility database to quantify the relationship between weather and company performance. In addition, we intend to on-board additional data sources to inform our analytics and add desktop visualization tools to our client offerings. This promises to be a busy year!
427 ANALYSIS – The physical impacts of climate change drive millions of dollars of losses for corporations every year, as experienced by Honda and Toyota during the 2011 floods in Thailand. Investors equipped with data on corporate production facilities and climate projections can manage their risk exposure more effectively and reduce downside risk.
Risk is one of the most widely understood and discussed components of the investment management process today. Informed tradeoffs of risk and return are fundamental to modern investment practices across asset classes and investment styles. And yet, an important dimension of risk – physical risk from companies’ exposure to climate volatility – has yet to find its way into the mainstream investment process.
Monsoons Damage Automobile Manufacturers
Climate change’s influence on economies, sectors and companies is an increasingly important factor in identifying and balancing the tradeoffs between risk and return. For example, the heavy monsoon season that led to severe flooding across Thailand in late June 2011 through December, inundated 30,000 square kilometers1 and caused widespread economic damage. Automobile manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda were particularly affected by suspended operations and supply chain disruptions, which led to reduced production internationally and affected global sales and profitability long after the rains stopped.
As shown in Figure 1, both companies possess a diversified set of production facilities in the area affected by the flooding, including stamping facilities and sub-component manufacturers, which do not only service downstream processes in Thailand but in other production centers as well. These same facilities all score high for extreme rainfall in our global corporate facility database, signaling high vulnerability to flood risk for Honda and Toyota – a risk that will only worsen in the future.
Sea Level Rise in Japan
Investors must also anticipate forward-looking risks – what will climate change bring, and which companies are most affected? Understanding and preparing for volatility in returns requires an in-depth awareness of a company’s facilities and the climate risks which those facilities face. Given their global footprint, many businesses are exposed to diverse hazards such as extreme heat, water stress, cyclones and sea level rise, in addition to extreme precipitation. Thus, the factors we include to model a company’s physical risk to climate change include the sector characteristics, operational needs and the regional conditions where facilities are located. While flood damage and manufacturing delays in Thailand damaged Honda and Toyota, Figure 2. shows these companies are also exposed to sea level rise at hundreds of facilities in their home market of Japan.
Assessing Companies’ Exposure to Climate Risk
Our data interweaves climate analytics with financial markets data to provide a robust view of companies’ risks and identify those that are less likely to experience financial losses due to increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Facility-level assessment of these risks is an intensely data-driven exercise that requires the combination of terabytes of data from climate models with information on complex company structures. We translate this analysis into a clear result to inform financial strategy. Armed with this understanding, investors and corporations alike can achieve a new and more valuable balance of risk and return.
Four Twenty Seven’s ever-growing database now includes close to one million corporate sites and covers over 1800 publicly-traded companies. We offer equity risk scoring and real asset screening services to help investors and corporations leverage this data.