Newsletter: Fintech Meets Climate Data

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss a discussion with our new Chief Development Officer, our report on using climate data and cool new innovations in climate science!

In Focus: Fintech Meets Climate Data

Meet Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas

We chatted 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. Having spent his career developing award-winning solutions for global institutional investors, Frank is a seasoned veteran of product management and strategic planning.

He founded and sold Pluribus Labs, a research and analytics firm focused on the translation of unstructured data into investable signals. Before that, he served as Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Strategy at Instinet, a leading technology-levered agency broker. He started his career in Product Management, designing and leading the delivery of quantitative risk solutions at Barra (now MSCI). “The acceleration of climate’s influence on corporate performance is upon us, and investors are rapidly awakening to the risks that climate change brings to financial markets,” Frank says. “Four Twenty Seven’s sophisticated climate data analytics are at the forefront of identifying most exposed corporations and assets globally, and we will continue to build on our expertise to provide best-in-class analytics of climate risk for our clients globally.”

 

Inside Market Data covers Frank’s transition to Four Twenty Seven and highlights the company’s goals for this year, including a focus on incorporating new types of data to add nuance to our risk analyses.

Read the Interview

Using Climate Data for Investment Decisions

Using Climate Data: A Four Twenty Seven Report


In this new Four Twenty Seven report, we demystify climate data with a clear breakdown of what it is, where it comes from and the nuances to consider when choosing which data products to use. 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, for unfamiliar users, climate data is hard to integrate into enterprise risk management, financial risk modelling processes and risk analysis.This climate data primer serves as an introduction for financial, corporate and government stakeholders striving to understand their exposure to physical climate change.

Read the Report

Innovations in Climate Science

Solar-Powered “Saildrones”

Two solar-powered sail boats are returning to California this month after debuting their ocean monitoring capacity on a trip through the Pacific. These drones are part of a collaboration between NOAA and Alameda-based startup, Saildrone, and they may be able to replace the costly bouy system that scientists currently use to obtain ocean circulation data. The boats collect temperature, wind and solar radiation data, while also measuring ocean circulation currents and gas exchange. These data are more precise than data collected by satellites or buoys and have the potential to provide powerful insights into studies of climate’s impact on ocean circulation.

Autonomous Ice Robots

A squad of “Seaglider” robots have been programmed with navigational algorithms for their year-long journey under Pine Island Glacier in Western Antarctica. Some may sink or get lost in ice caves, but the rest will collect data on salinity, temperature and oxygen content to inform scientific understanding of the rate of ice loss with climate change and implications for sea-level rise, floating to the surface to transmit their data.

Science Funding in the Federal Budget

The omnibus bill passed by Congress and signed by the President last month, did not include the funding cuts to critical climate research that many feared. NOAA received $5.9 billion, which is $234 million above its FY 2017 amount. NOAA has many resources for adaptation professionals and others striving to better understand how the natural world affects their lives and businesses, ranging from its satellite system and weather data to its integrated science programs and US Climate Resilience toolkit. This alphabetized list highlights over 20 such resources.

CRA Webinar: What You Need to Know About TCFD and 2018 Reporting Cycles

Thu, May 10, 2018 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT 
Climate change has become a growing concern for corporations, investors, and financial regulators alike. Corporations need to understand how the impacts of a changing climate may affect company operations or their broader value chain and assess how such impacts should be included in corporate disclosures and sustainability reports.

Emilie Mazzacurati will present an overview of how corporations can identify material risks, provide an update on rising regulatory requirements and changes to voluntary reporting frameworks to align with TCFD recommendations, and highlight opportunities to build resilience and adapt to new market conditions.

This programming is provided exclusively for Corporate Responsibility Association members and invited guests. To RSVP email Jen Boynton at jboynton@3blmedia.com.

Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Four Twenty Seven Website Features New Insights Page

 

Our blog page has been revamped with featured articles at the top and an interactive filter feature that allows users to sort by author, client, media type and theme or to search for keywords.

Our most read publications this month include:

Upcoming Events

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

  • April 30 – May 1: 2018 Local Solutions Eastern Climate Preparedness Conference, Manchester, NH: Advisory Services Manager, Katy Maher, will discuss strategies to build local resilience with this convening of government stakeholders.
  • May 1: TCFD US Scenario Analysis Conference, New York, NY: Founder and CEO Emilie Mazzacurati and Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas, will join this discussion about using scenario analysis in climate-related risk disclosure and resources to help corporations do so.
  • May 10: What You Need to Know About Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), CRA Webinar: Emilie Mazzacurati is the presenter on this webinar about corporate climate risk disclosure. CRA members only.
  • May 17: GRESB’s Sustainable Real Assets Conference, Washington, DC: Emilie Mazzacurati will keynote GRESB’s annual conference on infrastructure resilience and Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas will join the convening.
  • May 23: Four Twenty Seven Webinar, 11am-12pm PST: Save the date for a webinar on city level physical climate risks and opportunities to access climate adaptation and resilience financing. Registration details forthcoming.
  • 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 Frank Freitas and Senior Risk Analyst, Léonie Chatain, to discuss ratings and engagement on physical climate risk in equities.
  • June 12-14: VERGE Hawaii, Honolulu, HI: Advisory Services Manager, Kendall Starkman, will join 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 12-14PRI 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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Four Twenty Seven sends a newsletter focused on bringing climate intelligence into economic and financial decision-making for Fortune 500 companies, investors, and government institutions.Our mailing address is:
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427 Report: Using Climate Data

April 25, 2018 – 427 REPORT. 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.

Fintech Meets Climate Data

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!

Can Investors Anticipate the Impacts of Climate Change on Equities?

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 kilometersand 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.

Figure 1. Honda and Toyota facilities’ exposure to extreme rainfall. Orange dots represent facilities with higher risk.

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.

Figure 2. Japanese Automobile & Components Manufacturers’ exposure to sea level rise by facility. Red indicates high sea level risk, while green represents lower risk.

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.

Figure 3. Global exposure to water stress of all facilities in Four Twenty Seven’s database.

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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.

 

  1. Emma L. Gale and Mark A. Saunders, “The 2011 Thailand Flood: Climate Causes and Return Periods,” Weather 68, no. 9 (2013): 233–37.

Newsletter: Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risk & Opportunities

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss our update on upcoming EU regulations, our analysis on lessons learned from Art. 173 in France, and our conference calendar for the spring!

In Focus: Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate RIsk and Opportunities

An initiative from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Global Center for Excellence in Climate Adaptation

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA) are hosting an event: “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk and opportunities,” which will be held on 31 May at the EBRD’s headquarters in London. This event will be a forum for senior representatives from the financial and business community to discuss and identify the way forward for the development of metrics for disclosing physical climate risk and opportunities, as well as pointers for integrating physical climate risk considerations in scenario-based decision making by businesses and financial institutions.

In preparation for this event, the EBRD has been hosting working groups focused on advancing and fleshing out the recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure’s (TCFD) final recommendations released for the G20 summit last June. The TCFD recommended the inclusion of metrics on physical climate risk and opportunities in financial disclosures and called for further research and concrete guidance on what the appropriate metrics would be.

The conference will feature the findings from expert working groups that include representatives from Allianz, APG, AON, Bank of England, Barclays, BlackRock, Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, Citi, DNB, Deutsche Asset Management, Lightsmith Group, Lloyds, Meridiam Infrastructure, Moody’s, OECD, S&P Global, Shell, Siemens, Standard Chartered, USS and Zurich AM

Four Twenty Seven provides the technical secretariat for this initiative in partnership with Acclimatise. Learn more about the conference: “Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risk & Opportunities.” 

EU Moves Towards Regulation for Climate Risk Disclosure

EC Releases its Action Plan: Financing Sustainable Growth

Earlier this month the EU laid out a clear plan to move towards mandatory climate risk disclosure as part of a new set of regulations to finance sustainable growth and support the transition to a low-carbon economy. The European Commission’s Action Plan lays out a two year timeline for implementation, with a goal to create a taxonomy for climate adaptation finance by the end of 2019. These regulations from the EU will drive change into financial markets globally and set standards on reporting, disclosures and infrastructure resilience that will likely set the bar for the rest of the world.

The EC based the Action Plan on the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance’s (HLEG) final recommendations for actions to drive the transition to a sustainable financial system. The HLEG was created by the EC in December 2016 to determine how the regulatory landscape should transform to support efforts towards the goals of the Paris agreement and  promote the financing of a sustainable, resource-efficient economy. As the group’s report was eagerly awaited as a blueprint for market transformation in Europe, the EC’s Action Plan is expected to propel that transformation forward while prompting international conversation.

Read the Analysis

Lessons Learned from Article 173 Reporting

How are French investors reporting physical risk?
A Four Twenty Seven analysis

The first year of reporting under Art. 173 in France saw limited uptake of disclosures of physical risk and opportunities. We reviewed disclosures from 50 asset owners in France and found that only a quarter of respondents included substantial analysis and metrics on their exposure to physical impacts of climate change. We find insurance companies AXA and Generali provided the most detailed analysis for property portfolios, while FRR and ERAFP were the only pension funds to provide an initial assessment of physical risk exposure in their equity and fixed income portfolios.

Read the Analysis

More good reads on climate risk disclosures:

Extreme Weather Hurts Corporations

Weather Affects Company Performance

Whether it’s extreme heat diminishing worker productivity, winter storms damaging roads and power lines or one of countless other impacts, extreme weather causes harm to businesses’ facilities, their workers and supply chains, and leads to financial impacts. The World Resources Institute’s recent report, “Water Shortages Cost Indian Energy Companies Billions,” highlights findings that India’s thermal power is so reliant on water for cooling that the largest thermal utilities had to close at least once between 2013-2016 and lost about $1.4 billion in revenue. In the article “5 Things Companies Can Do to Grow in a Water-Stressed World,” Water Deeply describes ways that companies are mitigating their risk by proactively addressing water resource limitations.

Climate-related Risk for Telecommunications

Companies in different sectors will be affected differently by three types of climate risk. Novethic’s article “L’impact des risques climatiques sur les entreprises, le cas d’Orange,” provides direct examples of how physical climate risk, transition risk and reputation/legal risk directly threaten companies. In a discussion of Orange, a telecommunications provider, the article highlights the complex factors that companies must consider in addition to their impact on CO2 emissions. Such considerations include a company’s potential to promote innovations for resilience in society through programs ranging from apps that organize carpooling to smart metering.

Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Meet Guest Researcher, Nora Pankratz

Four Twenty Seven is excited to welcome Nora Pankratz as a guest researcher. Nora is a Ph.D. candidate in Finance at the European Center for Corporate Engagement at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Her research focuses on the impact of extreme temperatures on the financial performance of public firms. For the next several months Nora will be based in Berkeley, working with data collected by Four Twenty Seven to develop a research project on the translation of climate risks into financial risks.

Upcoming Events

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

  • March 19-21: ClimateCon, Asheville, NC: Katy Maher, is at this convening of science and businesses professionals focused on building climate resilience.
  • March 26-27: Financial Risks International Forum, Paris, France: Léonie Chatain, will attend this annual conference on emerging risks in the financial and insurance sectors.
  • April 2:  ICARP TAC Quarterly Meeting, San Francisco, CA: Natalie Ambrosio will participate in the Adaptation Vision Framework workshop hosted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
  • April 3-6: Sustainatopia, San Francisco, CA: COO Colin Shaw, will speak on a panel on ESG investing and a panel on climate risk at this annual convening of sustainability and financial experts.
  • April 9Financing Climate Change Adaptation, New York, NY: Founder and CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will participate in a private investor workshop on financing adaptation in US cities, organized by C40, NY City and GARI.
  • April 10-11:  Responsible Investors Asia, Tokyo, Japan: Meet with the Four Twenty Seven team to discuss physical climate risk in equities and infrastructure portfolios.
  • May 17: Sustainable Real Assets Conference, Washington, DC: Founder and CEO Emilie Mazzacurati will keynote GRESB’s annual conference on infrastructure resilience.
  • 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.
  • June 5-6: Responsible Investors Europe, London, UK: Meet with the Four Twenty Seven team to discuss ratings and engagement on physical climate risk in equities.
  • 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.
  • August 28-293rd 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.

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Four Twenty Seven sends a newsletter focused on bringing climate intelligence into economic and financial decision-making for Fortune 500 companies, investors, and government institutions.Our mailing address is:
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Art. 173: Lessons Learned from Climate Risk Disclosures in France

March 21, 2018 – 427 ANALYSIS. The first year of reporting under Art. 173 in France saw limited uptake of disclosures of physical risk and opportunities. Our review of disclosures from 50 asset owners in France shows only a quarter of respondents included substantial analysis and metrics on their exposure to physical impacts of climate change. We find insurance companies AXA and Generali provided the most detailed analysis for property portfolio, while FRR and ERAFP were the only pension funds to provide an initial assessment of physical risk exposure in their equity and fixed income portfolios.

Art. 173: the world’s first legal requirement to disclose climate risk

Article 173  of the French Law on Energy Transition and Green Growth passed August 2015 requires major institutional investors and asset management companies to explain how they take Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria into account in their risk management and investment policies. These institutions are also asked to report on the impacts of both physical risks and ‘transition’ risks caused by climate change on their activities and assets.

The law applies to French companies, meaning that French subsidiaries of large financial groups are potentially subject to requirements that do not apply to their parent companies. Its implementing decree invites these organizations to establish scenarios and models to take into account climate risks impacts on the value of their portfolios.

Article 173 covers publicly traded companies, banks and credit providers, asset managers and institutional investors (insurers, pension or mutual funds and sovereign wealth funds). In addition, asset managers managing funds above 500 M€ and institutional investors with balance sheets above 500 M€ are subject to extended climate change-related reporting obligations, including both physical impacts of climate change and transition risks (impact of the transition to a low-carbon economy).

The inclusion of physical impacts of climate change in financial risk analysis is in line with the industry-led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations report, released in July 2017.

What did financial institutions report?

We conducted a desktop analysis of the 2017 reports (applying to 2016 portfolios) to understand how financial institutions responded to the requirements laid out by Art. 173 in the first compliance year. We reviewed 50 asset owners in France, including public pension funds, sovereign wealth fund and insurance companies, with an aggregate €5.5 trillion euro ($6.8tn) under management. Our analysis included all the public entities covered by the Article 173, as well as private insurers with asset under management above €2bn. Insurance companies play a particularly important role as asset owners in France, where individual savings are massively invested in life insurance savings products. French pension funds, on the other hand, are relatively small due to France’s pay-as-you-go retirement system.

We were able to find Art. 173 reports for 36 out of 50 organizations. It is possible that, in spite of our best efforts, we failed to locate reports. However, Art. 173 has a ‘comply or explain’ provision which also makes it acceptable not to publish a report if one can justify climate change is not a material risk.

Among the Art. 173 reports, we found 29 from insurance companies and seven from public entities. Among them, 20 organizations (40%) discussed only their carbon footprint and/or their exposure to energy transition risk, without including physical risk disclosures.

A small group of organizations (8%) mentioned physical risk as a topic they were exploring but not yet able to report on. Most of them emphasized the lack of tools and models as a major impediment to reporting physical risk.

All in all, we found 12 financial institutions (24%) of the institutions under review made an explicit attempt to disclose their exposure to physical climate risk.

We broke down this latter group in three categories. Eight companies (16%) provided an analysis of the physical risks threatening either their operations or property portfolios (for insurance), ranging in scope from a few buildings to €15bn worth of assets in the case of AXA. Most of the reports contain limited details on methodology and findings.

Two companies (4%) performed what we call a “top-down” analysis, working with investment advisor Mercer to perform a multi-asset class, sector-level analysis of climate risk using Mercer’s proprietary climate risk model, which blends transition and physical risk. Finally, two high profile investors, pension fund ERAFP and sovereign wealth fund FRR, included an initial assessment of climate risk in their equity and fixed income portfolios, at the asset level.

 

 

Table 1 presents a detailed breakdown of how those organizations take physical climate risks into account:

 Case Studies: How do Investors Report on Physical Risk?

AXA

The best student in this 2016 reporting vintage is AXA France. AXA received the “International Award on Investor Climate-Related Disclosures” from the French Ministry for the Environment, for analyzing 15 billion euro of assets (real estate and infrastructures). The analysis takes into account most frequent European natural disasters and the geographical location of each individual asset as well as the destruction rate of their building materials. They found out that, over 30 years, the accumulated loss would aggregate to 24 million euro. The insurance company also reported that if a centennial storm was to occur, the portfolio would be impacted by a 15.2 million euro loss. While AXA provides some of the most detailed analysis,  it also noted that “this new kind of analysis needs to be improved in order to take into account more natural disasters and other portfolios”.

The following graphs demonstrate the physical risk exposure to windstorms for the analyzed infrastructures. On the left, the graph displays the annual average destruction rate, which is linked to the average loss generated by windstorms every year (0.8M€ on average). The map on the right shows the destruction rates due to a 100-year event, with an estimated loss of 15.2M€.

Source (Award on Investor Climate-related Disclosures, AXA Group, October 2016: https://cdn.axa.com/www-axa-com%2Fcb46e9f7-8b1d-4418-a8a7-a68fba088db8_axa_investor_climate_report.pdf)

Generali

Generali France also provided a complete and detailed evaluation of the potential impact of physical risks on their property assets. They analyzed 112 assets, mainly in the Paris Area, accounting for 60% of their owned assets. Generali took into account two kinds of physical risks, flood and drought, to rate their assets from “high” to “very low” risk. Regarding drought, 3 assets enter the medium-risk category. As only 12 assets have been analyzed (Paris and the overseas departments being excluded), this risk is important as it accounts for 25% of their analysis. On the other hand, 10 out of 112 buildings owned by Generali France are exposed to a high risk of flood. They are mainly located in the Paris Area and would be heavily affected by a Seine flood.

To sum up, both AXA and Generali reports are valuable examples of emerging best practices as they show the willingness of those organizations to take physical risks into account in their reporting practice. However, their analyses would benefit from being extended to a broader portfolio and to other natural events.

FRR

In November 2017 the French pension fund, “Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites” (FRR), released a report addressing Article 173 requirements. Four Twenty Seven performed the analysis, and applied its proprietary methodology to measure the types and levels of climate risk embedded in FRR holdings. Portfolio exposure was evaluated according to their respective industry and sector. The analysis produced a sector risk score based on three indicators:

  • the sector’s supply chains’ geography ;
  • its dependency on climate-sensitive natural resources inputs ;
  • its sensitivity to weather variability.

This hotspot analysis gave FRR tools to get an initial understanding of its portfolios’ exposure. It highlighted strongly exposed sectors such as Materials and Consumer Staples, due to their dependency on natural resources, and Pharmaceuticals and Electronics hardware, due to their complex and global supply chains. Conversely, the results brought out the low exposure of service-based industries such as Media and Telecommunication.

Conclusion

Reporting on physical climate risk is a challenging task for financial institutions – many organizations lack the tools, models and data to perform a comprehensive assessment of their portfolios, whether they’re composed of real assets or equities. As TCFD reporting becomes standard for financial institutions and corporations, pressure will increase to report on physical risk. We expect fast changes in disclosures in this regard, starting as early as the 2018 reporting season.

This analysis was written with support from Thomas Poloniato.

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.

Advancing TCFD Guidance on Physical Climate Risk & Opportunities: An EBRD & GCECA Initiative

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA) have announced an initiative focused on building climate resilience in the financial sector. Throughout the project Four Twenty Seven and our partners, Acclimatise, are supporting the knowledge development on physical climate risk and resilience metrics for the financial sector. The project will culminate in an event in May in London: “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk & opportunities.”

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA) are hosting an event: “Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risk and opportunities”, which will be held on 31 May at the EBRD’s headquarters in London. This event will build on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which crystallised a growing concern of investors and business leaders over the physical impacts of climate change on the economy and financial markets.

The TCFD’s final recommendations, released for the G20 summit in June 2017, recommended the inclusion of metrics on physical climate risk and opportunities into financial disclosures and called for further research and concrete guidance over what the appropriate metrics should be. Corporations and financial institutions need to agree on common metrics to ensure transparency and data comparability. Since then, the recommendations of the European Union’s High Level Expert Group on sustainable finance, released in January 2018, have also highlighted the need for a common taxonomy on climate change adaptation and metrics for physical climate risk and opportunity disclosures.

This event will be a forum for senior representatives from the financial and business community to discuss and identify the way forward for the development of metrics for disclosing physical climate risk and opportunities, as well as pointers for integrating physical climate risk considerations in scenario-based decision making by businesses and financial institutions.

The conference is sponsored by the EBRD and GCECA, and will feature the findings from expert working groups that include representatives from Allianz, APG, AON, Bank of England, Barclays, BlackRock, Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, Citi, DNB, Deutsche Asset Management, Lightsmith Group, Lloyds, Meridiam Infrastructure, Moody’s, OECD, S&P Global, Shell, Siemens, Standard Chartered, USS and Zurich AM, Acclimatise and 427 are providing the Secretariat function.

A detailed agenda will be circulated in due course. Please note that this is an invitation only event. Additional details are available on EBRD’s event page.

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Contact CEO Emilie Mazzacurati for more information and read about Four Twenty Seven’s solutions to help financial institutions, businesses and governments improve their climate resilience.

EU Moves Towards Regulation for Climate Risk Disclosure

From Recommendations to Action 

March 15, 2018 – 427 ANALYSIS. The EU laid out a clear plan to move towards mandatory climate risk disclosure as part of a new set of regulations to finance sustainable growth and support the transition to a low-carbon economy. The European Commission’s Action Plan lays out a two year timeline for implementation, with a goal to create a taxonomy for climate adaptation finance by the end of 2019. These regulations from the EU will drive change into financial markets globally and set standards on reporting, disclosures and infrastructure resilience that will likely set the bar for the rest of the world.

The European Commission recently released its Action Plan: Financing Sustainable Growth to establish a regulatory framework that supports the goals of the Paris agreement. The Action Plan calls for transformation of the whole financial system and  to enable the financing a sustainable, resource-efficient economy.

The Action Plan builds on the recommendation from a high profile expert group, the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG), which was created by the European Commission in December 2016.   The group included experts from banking, insurance, asset management and stock exchanges. Its final recommendations to the Commission, released in January  acknowledged the responsibility of the financial system to drive change towards “enduring and inclusive economic prosperity”. HLEG recommendations aimed to both promote sustainable investments, so that capital reaches sustainable projects and also to ensure that the financial system itself addresses risk and builds resilience.

Incorporating many of the  recommendations of the HLEG, the Commission’s Action Plan lays out ten specific actions, setting deadlines within the next two years, with a number of thematic sub-actions that willbe pursued simultaneously.  Action 1  lays the groundwork for many of the following actions as it will establish a Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, with the responsibility of drafting a standardized EU sustainability taxonomy , including climate mitigation by Q1 2019 and adaptation by Q3. This effort will be supported by legislation this year that mandates the creation of the taxonomy.

The 10 actions are summarized in this infographic from the European Commission:

Mandating Disclosure

Of most immediate importance to investors is Action 7, which calls for the proposal by Q2 2018 of legislation mandating investors to explicitly consider sustainability factors in their investment decisions and disclose their methodology of doing so. This effort is particularly focused on improving the consistency and transparency of climate risk considerations by investors.

Likewise, Action 9 is focused on improving the methodologies and practice of corporate risk disclosure. The Commission will publish a report on current reporting legislation by Q2 this year, which will inform a revision of corporate reporting guidelines to help them align with the TCFD recommendations, by Q2 2019. Later this year the Commission will develop a European Corporate Reporting Lab, under the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, to help develop best practices for corporate reporting. The goals of Action 10 will support these actions by supporting a shift in corporate governance. It aims to improve transparency and combat long-termism, by engaging with stakeholders around corporate governance starting by Q2 next year.

Revamping Credit Ratings

The Commission also commits to revamping the ways in which credit ratings incorporate sustainability metrics into their scoring. Through Action 6, the European Securities Markets Authority (ESMA) will examine the credit ratings’ current practices around this topic by Q2 2019 and the Commission will pursue comprehensive research on reporting standards, exploring the potential of mandating agencies to integrate specific sustainability metrics into their standards.

Client Clarity

To improve consumers ability to identify sustainable investments, Action 2 calls for the technical expert group to publish a report exploring green bond standards by Q2 2019 and the Commission will consider expanding the EU Ecolabel to include financial products, initially focusing on retail investments. Likewise, Action 4 says that by Q2 2018, the MiFID II and IDD rules will be updated to ensure that sustainability preferences are considered when banks, investment firms and insurers offer accounts to clients and by the end of the year the ESMA will include these provisions in their guidelines. Through Action 5 the Commission will adopt acts that improve the transparency of sustainability benchmarks by Q2 2018.

 Comprehensive Sustainability Support

The Commission identifies a lack of technical expertise as a challenge to pursuing sustainable infrastructure projects and aims to confront this by to increasing the technical support available to investors.  It will run a pilot project offering tools for sustainable infrastructure projects, from 2019-2023 through Action 3.

Action 8 states that the Commission will consider including sustainability frameworks in prudential requirements, looping in the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).

“A Blueprint” for Change

While the HLEG emphasized that its report is only the beginning of an enduring effort to create a resilient financial system that supports a sustainable society, the Commission’s resulting Action Plan clearly defines the next steps. And as HLEG also emphasized its report’s relevance for financial sectors worldwide, the Commission’s Action Plan states that a “coordinated, global effort is crucial.”  As “the HLEG hopes to stimulate a wide public debate that helps shift Europe’s financial system from post-crisis stabilization to supporting long-term growth,” that same widespread conversation is essential to driving global change. These regulations from the EU, as is often the case, will drive change into financial markets globally by setting new standards global financial institutions must meet.

Download the HLEG Recommendations.

Download the EC Action Plan

For more resources on building a sustainable financial sector, read about Four Twenty Seven’s work providing the technical secretariat for an EBRD and GCECA initiative to build a resilient financial sector and download the GARI Investor Guide to Physical Climate Risk and Resilience.

Winter Storm Riley Threatens Pharmaceuticals and Airlines

March 2, 2018 – 427 ANALYSIS. As Winter Storm Riley threatens to flood the Boston area, we find pharmaceuticals and airlines industries are most exposed to flood risk.  Boston is a hub for both research and industry and the long-lasting financial consequences could be dramatic for some of the corporations with facilities in low-lying areas. 

Only two months after Winter Storm Grayson flooded Boston with its highest water level on record (4.88ft), Winter Storm Riley is now inundating the city and is predicted to bring water levels about 4.5ft above average high tide levels. The timing of Riley exacerbates this flood risk, as the storm surge is on top of already higher than average tides associated with the full moon.

Figure 1. Facilities in downtown Boston and Cambridge are particularly exposed to coastal flooding. Red represents the most exposed facilities while green shows the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven

The greater Boston area is a hub for both research and industry and as this flooding is expected to worsen into the evening, the long-lasting financial consequences could be dramatic. Four Twenty Seven’s database of corporate facilities shows several industries and companies most exposed to coastal flooding. Our coastal flooding risk indicator measures exposure for low-lying facilities considering a combination of future sea level rise and storm surge from storms of varying intensity. A facility with high risk is likely to flood even during low intensity storms (e.g. 1 in 10 year events) and is also likely to experience a relatively large increase in storm surge.

Figure 2. Pharmaceutical facility exposure to coastal flooding in the greater Boston area. Red represents the most exposed facilities while green shows the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven

Pharmaceutical companies are highly vulnerable to flooding in Boston, with medical research facilities and pharmaceutical preparation sites belonging to Eli Lilly and Pfizer showing the most risk. This industry exposure is particularly alarming given the thousands of lab animals (often kept in basements) and years’ worth of research that were lost by cancer and neuroscience research labs that were flooded during Hurricane Sandy. The recovery of these facilities required months and extensive funds, affecting this industry long after the storm.

Figure 3. Airline facility exposure to coastal flooding in the greater Boston area. Red represents the most exposed facilities while green shows the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven

Airlines and other related airport services companies are also likely to be badly impacted by today’s storm. Storm damage of runways takes time and funds to repair, while impacting travelers and airlines in wide-reaching causal chains. While the location of Boston Logan International Airport makes it particularly vulnerable, the scheduling offices of airlines such as Delta and United are also largely exposed. Thus, in addition to costly delays and cancellations due to the local conditions, these airlines may experience more widespread scheduling difficulties if these buildings are inundated.

While understanding the long-term economic impacts of Winter Storm Riley will take many months, these findings highlight potential implications for the pharmaceutical and airline industries, their investors, and those who rely on their services.

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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.

Newsletter: COP23 Preview – Climate Risk Disclosure and Adaptation Finance

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss the highlights from the UN Principles for Responsible Investment conference and our preview of COP 23 in Bonn next month!

In Focus: A New Way to Fund Resilience


Re:focus Partners’ new report, A Guide to Public-Sector Resilience Bond Sponsorship, highlights the potential of resilience bonds to decrease both financial and physical disaster risks. By partnering with insurance agencies and issuing bonds to fund projects that are targeted at reducing specific vulnerabilities, such as flooding, city and state governments can make their communities more resilient while saving money. The report explains hazard-specific projects applicable for resilience bonds and outlines potential strategies for partnerships. Watch Four Twenty Seven CEO Emilie Mazzacurati speak on resilience finance at a Proadapt Symposium on Climate Risk and Investment.

Mainstreaming Climate Risk Disclosures

 

Climate risk reporting was at the heart of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in Person conference in Berlin. Nicolas Moreau, head of Deutsche Asset Management, encouraged investors to emphasize physical risk assessment in their portfolios in a keynote presentation featured above. Four Twenty Seven is proud to partner with Deutsche Asset Management to power new investment strategies focused on physical risk mitigation. Read about Four Twenty Seven’s work evaluating physical risk and supporting resilience in the financial sector. At the conference, PRI also announced the Climate Action 100+ initiative in collaboration with Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), Ceres, Investor Group on Climate Change and Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).The five-year initiative will engage investors to urge top greenhouse gas emitters to decrease emissions, commit to climate risk disclosure and improve corporate governance related to climate change.

Looking Over the Horizon


The new C2ES report, Beyond the Horizon: Corporate Reporting on Climate Change, offers insight into the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure’s (TCFD) final recommendations. The report praises the recommendations’ balance, noting their appeal to investors needing more information and to companies needing flexibility. Read our analysis of the TCFD Recommendations and applicable regulation in Europe.

Early Movers


The Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s announced ten companies committed to implementing the TCFD’s recommendations within three years. This emphasis on climate risk disclosure allows for the best use of capital and supports the transition to a resilient, low-carbon world. This commitment also sets companies apart in the eyes of investors, improves their own resilience and guarantees them support from CDSB.

The Costs of Climate Change

Billion-dollar Weather Events


Recent storms join a landscape that’s increasingly dotted with widespread costly disasters. National Geographic’s Billion-dollar Weather Chart displays these events as semi-circles, color-coded by event type and sized according to the economic damage caused, and serves as a comprehensive calendar of decades of extreme weather events.

Thought Leadership: Economic Impacts of Extreme Weather Events

Four Twenty Seven advisor, Kate Gordon urges leaders to plan for climate change and build for resilience in her commentary on CNBC: Evacuating millions is not an ‘effective or sustainable’ response to hurricane threats.

Solomon Hsiang from UC Berkeley and Trevor Houser from Rhodium Group emphasize the importance of giving financial support to Puerto Rico in their New York Times op-ed, Don’t Let Puerto Rico Fall Into an Economic Abyss.

In his opinion piece in the Washington Post, What’s behind today’s job report? Hurricanes, low unemployment, wage growth and climate change, Jared Bernstein discusses the connections between storms and a low job report.

Four Twenty Seven at COP 23

Join Nik Steinberg, Four Twenty Seven’s Director of Analytics, at these events in Bonn, Germany for COP23.

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

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.

The costs of extreme climatic events for the financial sector: how to manage exposure? November 10, French Pavilion

Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg will speak on a panel hosted by the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE), discussing the financial impacts of extreme weather events and strategies to build resilience.

Finance and Resilience Side Events

Climate Action in Financial Institutions: Mainstreaming the Paris Agreement in the Financial Sector Thursday Nov 9, 3:00-4:30pm, Meeting Room 7 (150)
Hosted by the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE), Corporacion Andina de Fomenta (CAF) and European Investment Bank (EIB).

Excellence in Climate Adaptation Nov 9, 3:00-4:30pm, Meeting Room 10 (200)
United by their vision to unite global adaptation projects, the Netherlands, Japan and UN Environment created The Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA), which will co-host this event with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Innovative Climate Finance Strategies and Instruments by and for Climate-Vulnerable Countries Monday Nov 13, 4:45-6:15pm, Meeting Room 9 (100)
Hosted by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and the Philippines.

Role of Standards and Accreditation to Support Non-state Actors in Light of Paris Agreement and SDGs Friday Nov 17, 1:15-2:45pm, Meeting Room 1 (150)
Hosted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Accreditation Forum Inc. (IAF).

Four Twenty Seven: Meet the Team!

Katy Maher, Manager

Four Twenty Seven is proud to announce the addition of Katy Maher to the team. From our new location in Washington, D.C., Katy works closely with Four Twenty Seven’s public and private sector clients to conduct vulnerability assessments, develop resilience strategies and facilitate stakeholder workshops.

Katy brings more than ten years of experience supporting climate change impacts and resilience projects at international, federal, state and local levels. Her expertise also includes convening public and private sector organizations to facilitate discussion and planning on climate resilience. Prior to joining Four Twenty Seven, Katy coordinated resilience projects at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and ICF International.

Read more of Katy’s experience

Career Opportunities

Four Twenty Seven continues to grow! We are hiring for the following positions:

* Senior Analyst, Financial Climate Risk
* Business Development Manager (Paris)
* Business Data Analyst

See the position descriptions.

Upcoming Events

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

  • October 10-13  SOCAP 2017, San Francisco, California: Meet with Senior Analyst Kendall Starkmann and Director of Advisory Yoon Kim to discuss impact investments and adaptation finance.
  • November 4-8  APHA 2017, Atlanta, Georgia: Director of Analytics Nik Steinberg will discuss how climate change affects health and how climate science can support decision-making in the public health sector at the APHA’s annual meeting and expo.
  • 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).
  • December 6-7  RI Americas 2017, New York, New York: CEO Emilie Mazzacurati and COO Colin Shaw will attend the annual conference where Four Twenty Seven will have a booth and Emilie will present on Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios.
  • December 11-15  AGU Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana: Director of Analytics Nik Steinberg will be joining the Earth and Space Science community to discuss recent research trends and participate in a mix of presentations, lectures and networking opportunities.

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