PRI Webinar: Measuring and Managing Physical Climate Risk

This PRI webinar, hosted in conjunction with DWS, discusses recent research in identifying physical climate risks and integrating this information into investment decisions. DWS shares its process for leveraging Four Twenty Seven’s equity risk scores to create a climate-optimized index.

Speakers

  • Murray Birt, ESG Thematic Research Strategist at DWS, breaks down physical climate risk and its financial impacts.
  • Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder & CEO of Four Twenty Seven, presents a methodology for assessing and visualizing climate risk in portfolios.
  • Edward Baker, Senior Policy Advisor at PRI, shares new investor data on climate risk reporting under the TCFD recommendations.
  • Gerold Koch, Director of Passive Product Development at DWS, discusses DWS’ strategy for creating a climate-optimized index.
  • Jessica Elengical, Head of ESG Strategy, Alternatives at DWS, speaks about the impacts of physical climate risks on real estate investments.

Newsletter: US Munis Increasingly Vulnerable to Floods, Storms and Drought

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss our new report on muni climate risk exposure, details on upcoming Four Twenty Seven webinars and an update on risk disclosure resources!

In Focus: U.S Munis Increasingly Vulnerable to Floods, Storms, and Drought

New report from Four Twenty Seven analyzes exposure to climate hazards in U.S. muni market


Our latest report Assessing Exposure to Climate Change in U.S. Munis identifies U.S. cities and counties most exposed to the impacts of climate change. As credit rating agencies start integrating physical climate risk into their municipal ratings, our new climate risk scores help inform investors with forward-looking, comparable data on the climate risks that impact these municipalities. Learn more about Four Twenty Seven climate risk scores for cities and counties and options to finance city resilience in our Webinar: Building City-level Climate Resilience, May 23.

Read the Report

Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risk and Opportunities

EBRD and GCECA Conference on May 31

Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risks and Opportunities is a targeted initiative to lay the foundations for a common conceptual framework and a standard set of metrics for physical climate risks and opportunities disclosures. Working with thought-leaders in the financial and corporate sectors, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Global Climate Center for Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA), with the support from technical experts Four Twenty Seven and Acclimatise, developed a set of technical recommendations on metrics for risks and opportunities disclosures.

The final report will be released during a conference held at the EBRD’s headquarters in London on May 31st, 2018. Four Twenty Seven founder and CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will facilitate the panel discussion on the project’s key findings with Murray Birt from DWS, Simon Connell from Standard & Chartered, Craig Davies from EBRD, and Greg Lowe from AON.

TCFD Knowledge Hub

The recently launched TCFD Knowledge Hub is a curated platform of insights and resources on climate risk reporting. Users can search by keyword or sort for resources by the four TCFD themes. There is a broad set of research, tools and frameworks for implementing the TCFD recommendations, including our Lender’s Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments, our Technical Brief on Using Climate Data and a Climate Scenario Guide for Investors.

Helping Banks Build Climate Resilience

Acknowledging that financial impacts, regulatory pressures and industry action all point toward the need for climate-related risk disclosure and more comprehensive data, IDB Invest asserts that what may have formerly been ancillary ESG factors must now be central to business decisions. They report on four key messages from their annual Sustainability Week, in their article “Four insights for banks willing to seize sustainable finance opportunities.” 

The key takeaways are that risk analysis must include more than solely financial data, technology is a crucial ally in translating data into actionable insights, new ways to understand risk bring new market opportunities, and prioritization of ESG and climate analysis demand shifting human capital needs. Four Twenty Seven provided one of the featured new technologies, combining climate data with data on bank’s credit portfolios to assess climate-related risks and new market opportunities for banks in Ecuador. Read more.

Tomorrow! Four Twenty Seven Webinar:
Building City-level Climate Resilience

Wed, May 23, 2018 11:00AM – 12PM PT 

Four Twenty Seven is hosting a webinar to provide insight into concrete actions that cities can take to more effectively attract investor financing for climate adaptation and resilience, and share findings from our comprehensive analysis of city-level physical climate risks in the U.S. The webinar will be recorded and made available in the Insights section of our website. Register here.

Save the date – Four Twenty Seven Webinar:
Metrics for Physical Climate Risks Disclosure

Four Twenty Seven will host a webinar on TCFD reporting, emerging metrics and best practice for physical climate risks and opportunities disclosures. We will provide insights and lessons from the front line on:

  • How to use climate data to assess risks
  • Do’s and don’ts of scenario analysis
  • How to structure your TCFD/Art. 173 disclosures
  • Strategies for corporate engagement

Tues. June 12 at 8am PT; 11am ET; 4pm CET:

Register Here

Tues. Wed. 13 June at 9am HKT/SGT; 10am JST; 11am AEST (June 12 at 6pm PT):

Register Here

The Third California Adaptation Forum

The biennial California Adaptation Forum will take place in Sacramento from August 28-29. This multidisciplinary gathering of adaptation professionals and local stakeholders will include plenaries, workshops and sessions discussing trends in climate resilience, forward-looking adaptation policy, strategies for adaptation finance and new tools.

Upcoming Events

Join the Four Twenty Seven team in the field at these upcoming events:

  • May 23: Four Twenty Seven Webinar Building City-level Climate Resilience, 11am-12pm PT: This webinar will discuss city level physical climate risks and opportunities to access climate adaptation and resilience financing. Register here.
  • May 23: Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative Quarterly Meeting, Sacramento, CA: Advisory Services Manager, Kendall Starkman, will join this quarterly meeting focused on the drivers of poor air quality in the Capital Region.
  • May 31: Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risk and Opportunities, London, UK: Four Twenty Seven is a strategic partner for this event hosted by EBRD and GCECA to discuss emerging guidance on metrics for physical climate risk disclosures and scenario analysis and Emilie Mazzacurati will moderate a panel presenting findings on physical risk metrics.
  • June 5-6: Responsible Investors Europe, London, UK: Hear Emilie Mazzacurati speak on a panel on corporate engagement and also meet with Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas, and Senior Risk Analyst, Léonie Chatain, to discuss ratings and engagement on physical climate risk in equities.
  • June 7-9: 7th Sustainable Finance Forum, Waddesdon, UK: COO Colin Shaw will speak on a panel called “Supply chain transparency and network analysis” at this forum hosted by the Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford.
  • June 12: Four Twenty Seven Webinar: Metrics for Physical Climate Risks Disclosure, 8am PT and 6pm PT: This webinar will cover TCFD reporting, emerging metrics and best practice for physical climate risks and opportunities disclosures.
  • June 12-14: VERGE Hawaii, Honolulu, HI: Kendall Starkman, will speak about Four Twenty Seven’s heat assessment work at this convening of corporate, government and NGO stakeholders committed to building resilient cities and economies.
  • June 18-21: Adaptation Futures 2018, Cape Town, South Africa: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will facilitate a session exploring integrating climate risks into infrastructure investment decisions.
  • June 26: GRESB’s Sustainable Real Assets Conference, Sydney, Australia: Meet with  Frank Freitas at GRESB’s annual conference on resilient infrastructure investments.
  • August 28-29: 3rd California Adaptation Forum, Sacramento, CA: Save the date for this opportunity to join over 600 climate leaders in workshops, sessions and networking around adaptation action in California.
  • September 12-14: PRI in Person, San Francisco, CA: Join the Four Twenty Seven team at this annual convening of responsible investment industry leaders.
  • September 12-14: Global Climate Action Summit, San Francisco, CA: Join the Four Twenty Seven team at this convening of global climate adaptation experts meant to propel action around the Paris Agreement.

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Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities

May 22, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Cities and counties are bearing the costs of the sixteen billion-dollar disasters in the United States in 2017, raising concerns over the resilience of municipalities to the impacts of climate change and associated financial shocks. Credit rating agencies are increasingly integrating physical climate risk into their municipal rating criteria; however, they lack concrete metrics that compare and assess which municipalities are exposed to climate impacts. Four Twenty Seven’s new local climate risk scores provide comparable, forward-looking data to fill this gap. This report discusses our approach to measuring exposure to climate hazards and highlights cities and counties most exposed to the impacts of climate change.

Following Hurricane Harvey, Moody’s downgraded Port Arthur from A1 to A2 due to its “weak liquidity position that is exposed to additional financial obligations from the recent hurricane damage, that are above and beyond the city’s regular scope of operations.” (Moody’s). This follows the recent trend of rating agencies increasingly considering climate change and past extreme weather events in their evaluations of U.S. cities. While this consideration is an important step, their evaluations could be better informed by incorporating forward-looking comparable data on the climate risks that impact these municipalities.

Featuring Four Twenty Seven’s new local level exposure scores, our report Assessing Exposure to Climate Change in U.S. Munis, shares key findings from our scoring of all 3,142 U.S. counties and the 761 cities over 50,000 in population. The research results are based on Four Twenty Seven’s market-leading expertise in five major climate categories, including cyclones/hurricanes, sea level rise, extreme rainfall, heat stress, and water stress. “This new dataset provides a comprehensive suite of risk scores to better inform rating and pricing decisions,” says Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder & CEO. “We believe that our analytics will be very helpful for all market participants, including muni bond investors, local governments, and ratings agencies.”

This report highlights specific cities and counties most exposed to each climate hazard and also discusses regional trends and economic sensitivities that may exacerbate a muni’s vulnerability.  “Climate risk is increasingly a part of our credit analysis for municipal issuers across the country,” said Andrew Teras, senior analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors. “The climate risk scores developed by Four Twenty Seven provide a comparable way to evaluate climate exposure and will give us another factor for assessing our investment universe.”

Key Findings

  • Sea Level Rise: The mid-Atlantic, particularly New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, has the highest exposure to coastal flooding in the United States, with the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest also highly exposed in several of their coastal cities and counties.
  • Cyclones/Hurricanes: The majority of cyclone risk in the United States is concentrated in the Southeast, given its geographic proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The coastal Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are also exposed to cyclones, but they tend to be less frequent than in the Southeast and somewhat weaker on average after interacting with land or cooler ocean waters.
  • Extreme Rainfall: The Midwest is particularly exposed to heightened flood risk due to changing rainfall patterns. Recent advancements in attribution science show extreme rainfall to be the main driver of recent floods rather than 20th century agricultural practices, as was largely believed to be the case until recently.
  • Heat Stress: The highest heat stress scores tend to be centered in the Southeast and Midwest, concentrated in Missouri and western Illinois and fanning out to the Great Plains, Mississippi River Basin, and Florida.
  • Water Stress: Key watersheds for agricultural production such as the Central Valley aquifer system in California and the Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains are highly exposed to water stress. The agriculturally-dominated areas of Bakersfield, Delano, and Visalia, CA along the Central Valley Aquifer are among the ten cities most exposed to water stress. Similarly, municipalities along the Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains also rely heavily on agriculture and are among the most exposed to water stress.

Download the report.

Download the press release.

Using Climate Data – 427 Technical Brief

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.

Key  Takeaways

  • Climate models are simulations of the Earth’s future conditions. Climate projections are based on a compilation of many models and are publicly available.
  • Regional climate models and statistical downscaling improve the resolution of data produced by global climate models and are thus valuable options when projections are only needed for one location or several in the same region.
  • Climate models can be used to project future trends in temperature and precipitation, but can not project discrete storms or local flooding from sea level rise, which require additional data and analysis.
  • Different time horizons of climate projections have different strengths and limitations so it is important to select the data product best suited to a specific project’s goal.
  • There are several drivers of uncertainty in climate models and strategies to hedge this uncertainty can help users correctly interpret and use climate projections.

Download the Report.

Lenders’ Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments

Climate change poses multifaceted physical risks for infrastructure investors, affecting revenue, maintenance costs, asset value and liability. According to the New Climate Economy report, global demand for new infrastructure investment could be  over US$90 trillion between 2015 and 2017. It is becoming increasingly clear that climate change must be considered in all infrastructure investment and construction.

Four Twenty Seven, in collaboration with our partners Acclimatise and Climate Finance Advisers, published a “Lenders’ Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments” to explain the ways in which physical climate risks might affect key financial aspects of prospective infrastructure investments.

Climate Change and Infrastructure

The guide begins with a discussion of climate risk, acknowledging that climate change can also open opportunities such as improving resource efficiency, building resilience and developing new products. It provides a framework for questioning how revenues, costs, and assets can be linked to potential project vulnerability arising from climate hazards.

Revenues: Climate change can cause operational disruptions that lead to a decrease in business activities and thus decreased revenue. For example, higher temperatures alter airplanes’ aerodynamic performance and lead to a need for longer runways. In the face of consistently higher temperatures, airlines may seek airports with longer runways, shifting revenue from those that cannot provide the necessary facilities.

Costs/Expenditures: Extreme weather events can cause service disruptions, but can also damage infrastructure, requiring additional unplanned repair costs. For example, storms often lead to downed power lines which disrupts services but also necessitates that companies spend time and money to return the power lines to operating conditions.

Assets: Physical climate impacts can decrease value of tangible assets by damaging infrastructure and potentially shortening its lifetime. Intangible assets can be negatively impacted by damages to brand image and reputation through repeated service disruptions.

Liabilities: Climate change is likely to pose increasing liability risk as disclosure and preparation requirements become more widespread. As infrastructure is damaged and regulations evolve, companies may face increased insurance premiums and costs associated with retrofitting infrastructure and ensuring compliance.

Capital and Financing: As expenditures increase in the face of extreme weather events, debt is also likely to increase. Likewise, as operations and revenues are impacted and asset values decrease, capital raising may become more difficult.

The guide also draws attention to the potential opportunities emerging from resilience-oriented investments in infrastructure. There are both physical and financial strategies that can be leveraged to manage climate-related risks, such as replacing copper cables with more resilient fiber-optic ones and creating larger debt service and maintenance reserves.

Climate Risks and Opportunities: Sub-Sector Snapshots

The guide includes ten illustrative “snapshots” describing climate change considerations in the example sub-industries of Gas and Oil Transport and Storage; Power Transmission and Distribution; Wind-Based Power Distribution; Telecommunications; Data Centers; Commercial Real Estate; Healthcare; and Sport and Entertainment. Each snapshot includes a description of the sub-sector, an estimation of its global potential market, examples of observed impacts on specific assets, and potential financial impacts from six climate-related hazards: temperature, sea-level rise, precipitation & flood, storms, drought and water stress.

Commercial real-estate, for example, refers to properties used only for business purposes and includes office spaces, restaurants, hotels, stores, gas stations and others. By 2030 this market is expected to exceed US $1 trillion per annum compared to $450 billion per annum in 2012. Climate impacts for this sub-sector include hazard-specific risks and also include the general risk factor of climate-driven migration which drives shifts in supply and demand in the real estate market.

As heat waves increase in frequency, people will likely seek refuge in cool public buildings, leading to increasing property values for those places such as shopping malls that provide air-conditioned spaces for community members. Increasing frequency and intensity of storms may damage commercial infrastructure, leading to recovery costs and increased insurance costs. Real estate managers may have to make additional investments in water treatment facilities to ensure the viability of their assets in regions faced with decreased water availability. An example of the financial impacts of climate change on this sub-sector can be seen in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. After the hurricane hit Texas in August 2017, approximately 27% of Houston commercial real estate was impacted by flooding and these 12,000 properties were worth about US$55 billion.

Download the Lenders’ Guide. 

For more guidance on investing for resilience, read the Planning and Investing for a Resilient California guidance document and the GARI Investor Guide to Physical Climate Risk and Resilience.

Newsletter: Climate Risk in Financial Portfolios, COP23 and Workforce Adaptation

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss our white paper on physical climate risk in equity portfolios, French President Macron’s op-ed on climate finance, and our policy recommendations on protecting workers from climate health impacts. Also, be sure to check out our new website!

In Focus: Physical Risk in Financial Portfolios

Figure 4. Extreme Precipitation Risk for Facilities from France’s Benchmark Index CAC40

Four Twenty Seven and Deutsche Asset Management jointly released today at COP23 a white paper featuring a new approach to climate risk management in equity portfolios. The white paper, 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 sites around the world and then the vulnerability of these corporate production and retail sites to climate change, such as sea level rise, droughts, flooding 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.

Read the white paper

France on the Forefront of Climate Finance

French President Emmanuel Macron emphasizes his support for the Taskforce on Climate Related Financial Disclosure’s (TCFD) recommendations in an op-ed published on Global Markets. Macron also highlighted the importance of climate finance mechanisms, such as green bonds, and the need for private participation in financing climate action.

 

France has been heralded as a global leader on climate risk disclosure with the passage of the Energy Transition Law, including Article 173, which includes a requirement for financial institutions to disclose their exposure to physical climate risk. Four Twenty Seven is working with French public pension funds and screening equity portfolios to support reporting efforts in compliance with Art. 173.

Adaptation: Safeguarding Worker Health & Safety

Four Twenty Seven co-authored an article titled “Safeguarding Worker Health and Safety from a Changing Climate: Delaware’s Climate-Ready Workforce Pilot Project,” with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Through interviews, surveys, and policy analysis assessing the climate resilience of existing worker health and safety policies, the authors examine the preparedness of five state agencies for climate impacts. The article highlights particular risks faced by vulnerable workers and offers policy recommendations for enhancing resilience to ensure the safety and well-being of agency staff.

Visit our website for a detailed presentation on the Delaware Climate-Ready Workforce Pilot Project, the summary report, and more information about our adaptation planning and policy consulting.

International Climate Policy in the Spotlight

Four Twenty Seven’s Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg’s panels at COP23

Measuring Progress on Climate Adaptation and Resilience: From Concepts to Practical Applications
Nov. 7, 3:00 – 4:30pm, Meeting Room 7 (150)Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg will join a panel of experts discussing adaptation measurement, focusing on indicators and metrics to inform and assess resilience efforts. This side event will be hosted by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), McGill University and the University of Notre Dame.

Resilience as a Business: How the Private Sector Can Turn Climate Risk into Business and Investment  Nov. 10, 5:30 – 8:00pm, Hilton Bonn

Bringing together corporate stakeholders and private investors, this event will explore the private sector’s pivotal role in mainstreaming adaptation and driving the resilience agenda.

Speakers include: Representative from Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan; Mari Yoshitaka from Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. Ltd.; Jay Koh from Lightsmith Group and GARI;  Nik Steinberg from Four Twenty Seven; and Amal-Lee Amin from Inter-American Development Bank. For more information contact proadapt@fomin.org.

Tool: Monitoring Progress on the Paris Agreement


This interactive new platform developed by the The World Resources Institute combines climate policy data with interactive graphics to help analysts and policy makers stay up to date on nationally determined contributions (NDCs), greenhouse gas emissions by sector and more. Climate Watch allows users to sort data based on various indicators, examine connections between NDCs and Sustainable Development Goals, and dive into data on specific nations.

Inside the Office: What’s New at Four Twenty Seven

We Have a New Website!

With streamlined navigation and updated visuals, our new website brings our story alive and allows for a more engaging user experience.
Visit the Solutions page to explore our advisory services and subscription products, including Equity Risk Scores, Portfolio Analytics and Real Asset Screening.
Check out the Insights section for our perspectives on climate resilience, climate risk reporting, adaptation finance, climate science and recent events.

Meet Pete Dickson, Director of Business Development

Four Twenty Seven is proud to announce the addition of Pete Dickson to our team. As the Director of Business Development, Pete is responsible for driving growth for our subscription products, with a focus on financial institutions.
Pete brings more than 20 years of experience in institutional sales, trading, and business development. He’s worked with both the buy-side and sell-side to develop and execute business plans and build revenue, products, and services. Pete has worked with some of the largest financial services and asset management firms in the US and abroad.

Upcoming Events

Join the Four Twenty Seven team in the field at these upcoming events:

  • November 7-17  COP23, Bonn, Germany: Join Director of Analytics Nik Steinberg at side events at the UNFCCC’s 23rd Conference of Parties (See above for details).
  • November 12-15  Airports Going Green, Dallas, TX: Director of Advisory Services Yoon Hui Kim will present on corporate climate resilience planning for airports and transportation infrastructure.
  • November 16-17 Berkeley Sustainable Business and Investment Forum, Berkeley, CA: COO Colin Shaw will attend this event sponsored by the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business and the Berkeley Law School
  • November 30 Roundtable: Investing with Impact, San Francisco, CA: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will speak at a roundtable organized by Deutsche Asset Management about the use of ESG data in portfolio investing (by invitation).
  • December 6-7  RI Americas 2017, New York, NY: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will present on Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios (Wednesday Dec 6 at 2pm) and meet with Colin Shaw, Pete Dickson and Katy Maher at the Four Twenty Seven booth.
  • December 11  Climate Finance Day, Paris, France: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will join this high profile event sponsored by the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance.
  • December 11-15  AGU Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA: Climate Data Analyst Colin Gannon will join the Earth and Space Science community to present a poster on climate modeling.

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The “Tragedy of The Horizon:” the Economic Risk of Global Warming

On September 29th, Mark Carney, recently appointed Governor of the Bank of England, gave a speech on the risks of climate change to financial stability at a Lloyd’s insurance event. Carney referred to climate change as the “tragedy of the horizon,” citing outcomes like the impact of rising seas on the world’s coastlines and infrastructure as one of the largest risks to financial stability around the world. Carney cited three major risks to financial stability from climate change.

1.    Climate change presents physical risks

First risk: “The impacts today on insurance liabilities and the value of financial assets that arise from climate- and weather-related events, such as floods and storms that damage property or disrupt trade.”

In the context of sea level rise, the impacts of climate change on infrastructure and property along the world’s coastlines are readily apparent. Carney referenced a Lloyd’s study that “estimated that the 20 cm rise in sea-level at the tip of Manhattan since the 1950’s, when all other factors are held constant, increased insured losses from Superstorm Sandy by 30 percent in New York alone.”

Rising seas already compounded the impact of hurricane Sandy, knocking out power grids, flooding subways and causing financial damages estimated to be between $30 billion to $50 Billion. Under current projections of sea level rise up to a 6.6 foot increase is possible by 2100; and as oceans rise so will the physical impact of superstorms.

A U.S Army Corp of engineers and the National Weather service map of storm surge inundation if it hit with sea level rise projections for 2100, illustrating economic risk of global warming
A U.S Army Corp of engineers and the National Weather service map of storm surge inundation if it hit with sea level rise projections for 2100.

2.    A changing climate creates liability risk

Second risk: “The impacts that could arise tomorrow if parties who have suffered loss or damage from the effects of climate change seek compensation from those they hold responsible.  Such claims could come decades in the future, but have the potential to hit carbon extractors and emitters – and, if they have liability cover, their insurers – the hardest”

Carney suggests that those who suffer the majority of asset loss from climate change could look to hold polluters, governments or private firms accountable for risk exposure.

Nestle is now being sued for the use of water in Southern California and their impact on the California drought. Lawsuits against corporations, governments or private land owners who have shifted the true costs of their behavior onto the commons have the potential to be held accountable for their behavior as extreme weather events become more common and impactful.

Liability for the loss of property and adverse health affects due to climate change are not only held by private firms, but also my American taxpayers. In Alaska, the town of Kivalina is already being displaced by sea level rise and melting sea ice. In response the Obama administration has proposed $50.4 Million in federal aid for relocation costs.

3.    Climate change will create more stranded assets

Third risk: “The financial risks which could result from the process of adjustment towards a lower-carbon economy.  Changes in policy, technology and physical risks could prompt a reassessment of the value of a large range of assets as costs and opportunities become apparent.”

What Carney is getting at here is the fact that an assessment of liability will change the valuation of an asset. This includes what is commonly referred to as “stranded assets”, in particular fossil fuel reserves — and the plants that process and burn them — will become useless is a world focused on carbon-free energy.  But it also includes a much greater class of assets that could become stranded, for example real estate on properties that experience frequent and increasing flooding. After the world has seen enough primary property loss and secondary liability loss due to impacts like rising seas our markets will compensate by devaluing at risk assets.

Conclusion

Climate science has been warning us for decades that the impacts of unbridled emissions are on the horizon, but what Carney adds to the conversation is the translation of the risks into financial terms. As acceptance and information about climate change increase so too does the desire to find innovative solutions that build resilience into how we do business and navigate the risks.  Being informed about the potential impact of sea level rise and extreme weather events can help industry and government adapt and keep out of the deep waters of rising seas.

 

By Sam Irvine

Can we prepare better? Managing risk in a context of uncertainty

On October 3rd, the Obama administration declared a state of emergency in South Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, which dumped a foot and a half of rain in approximately 24 hours on the Carolinas, caused floods from New Jersey to Georgia and sunk cargo ship El Faro and its crew. While the Charleston and many other cities were battling the floods, with a cost estimated at over $1 billion, France was also experiencing unexpected flash floods near Nice, which caused 17 death.  Landslides in Guatemala also claimed the lives of 186 people and were catalyzed by a strengthened El Nino. When considering each event in isolation, it may be possible to overlook the connection between the storms intensity and climate change. Together these extreme weather events are indicative of a larger trend; while we can’t predict where the next big storms will hit, we do know they are becoming more frequent and stronger.

Floods in South Carolina
Flooding in South Carolina. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

These serve as yet another wakeup call to remind us that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and that our communities, cities and business need to be prepared for the stormy weather. But, as humans, do we require a crisis to mobilize us into action? Or can the same results be sparked through other methods without the loss of life, property and human well-being?

Climate scientists have warned for years of how climate change will increase the intensity of hurricanes, and the Southeast U.S. is a highly exposed region for such hurricanes. Yet many of us act as if the storm was always going to hit next door, and fail to apply our rational understanding of risk to better preparedness.

At Four Twenty Seven, we created Climate War Games to put executives and decision-makers into the context of the increasing risks presented by climate change. Gaming and simulation provide teachable moments, which we can apply to our real world behavior.

Climate War Games
Operation, probability and climate outlook cards from the Climate War Game

In game play, we assign the players to companies and task them with running their business while getting through a number of rounds in which they experience unpredictable extreme weather events. We break down uncertainty by type of event and their varying impacts to supply chains and infrastructure that can be damaged by extreme precipitation or temperature.

While the specific outcomes are unpredictable, because they hinge on a dice roll, the risk profile of each player’s hand is clearly laid out, so as to enable teams to understand their company’s risk profile and adopt the most cost-effective portfolio of adaptation measures. The winner is the company that earns the most profit – and  limits its losses — that way, game play reflects the same challenges organizations face in the real world.

The game emulates the escalating risk of climate volatility and simulates through dice rolls the increasing likelihood of “black swan events” with low probability of occurrence, but high consequences and subsequent costs.

Players have to make the same tough choices they would in the real business world between saving or spending, and we see teams approach the choices in both creative and conventional ways. While there are different ways to play, the real value of the game comes from knowing that the risks actually create business opportunities, and acting through an informed strategy pays out over the long run. The game also helps participants reflect upon the potential human implications of their risk mitigation strategy.

Confronting the reality of what climate change is going to bring upon us can feel overwhelming at times. By providing a safe environment with clearly delineated risk profiles, and challenging players to make decisions and take action in a context of uncertainty, we help break down mental and cultural barriers to corporate adaptation, and set participants on track to build climate resilience. We do not know where the next storm will hit, but we can and should prepare to the best of our ability using climate science and probabilities.

Learn more about Climate War Games and our training courses offering here.

By: Sam Irvine