Weathering Wildfires: 427 Interview

Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg, discusses wildfire risk, impacts and prevention efforts, on the Midday Briefing. Nik explains implications of increasingly frequent and severe wildfires for the insurance industry and homeowners and shares several ideas for adapting to these risks. While fires have always occurred, climate change is changing the landscape of the wildland-urban interface and residents and policy-makers must understand their wildfire risks and implement preventative strategies. The economic implications are huge for utilities, shareholders and communities, but with intentional planning businesses, governments and residents have the opportunity to mitigate loss.

 

Public Health System Resilience Scorecard

Climate change will continue to adversely affect public health by threatening sanitation, altering the distribution of vector-borne disease, increasing the need for effective heat wave responses, introducing new mental health challenges and more. To help cities understand their vulnerability to these impacts and build resilience, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) developed a Public Health System Resilience Addendum for its Disaster Resilience Scorecard for cities.

The addendum includes 24 questions, defining a 0-5 scale for practitioners to quantify their responses (see example below). The questions cover the integration of public health with each of UNISDR’s Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient: disaster governance, disaster scenarios, finances, land use and building codes, ecosystem services, institutional capacity, societal capacity, infrastructure resilience, disaster response, and disaster recovery.

By capturing all of the possible weak spots in the broader health system, the addendum is meant to be a tool for mainstreaming public health considerations into disaster risk reduction plans, rather than just serving as a one-time assessment.  Using this integrated approach can help city officials build resilience over time. Recent events like the power outage that led to eight deaths in a Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma demonstrate the preventable nature of many public health disasters. Ensuring that critical facilities have backup power supplies and that potential hazards are effectively communicated are ways in which effective planning can mitigate loss. By understanding existing vulnerabilities and how these will worsen with climate change, officials can implement essential adaptation measures that will save lives.

Four Twenty Seven contributed to this addendum and has developed a methodology to assess climate risk exposure in U.S. cities and counties. We are continuing research on quantifying local resilience to climate impacts and supporting public health responses to climate change. The forthcoming California Heat Assessment Tool will provide public health officials with an interactive platform to understand the projected increase in extreme heat events in each California census tract, based on the sensitivity of the local populations. It will also show the distribution of frontline individuals, such as the elderly, to inform effective local heat responses. This free, user-friendly tool will be live in mid-August.

Responding to Economic Climate Risk in Australia

June 25, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Regulatory pressure and financial damage are necessitating an increase in physical climate risk disclosure in Australia. In exercising their own due diligence and assessing the exposure to physical climate risks in their portfolios, investors arm themselves with valuable information on corporate risk exposure which they can leverage to engage with companies around resilience. This report explores the connection between climate hazards and financial risks and shares examples of corporate adaptation and investor engagement to build resilience.

The global tide of interest in the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has hit the shores of Australian financial markets, steered by regulators concerned about the systemic risk climate change poses to the economy. In 2017 Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Geoff Summerhayes was the first Australian regulator to formally endorse the TCFD. “Some climate risks are distinctly ‘financial’ in nature. Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now,” he said. This sentiment was echoed by John Price of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2018 and reflects growing regulatory concern over climate risk disclosure internationally, as shown by Article 173 of France’s Law on Energy Transition and Green Growth and the 2018 European Commission Action Plan.

This Four Twenty Seven Report, Responding to Economic Climate Risk in Australia, explores the drivers of financial risk in Australia and discusses approaches to addressing this risk. The nation’s dominant industries are particularly threatened by the prevalent climate hazards. For investors, understanding a company’s risk to climate change is an essential first step to mitigating portfolio risk, but must be followed by corporate engagement to build resilience. Institutional investors are increasingly leveraging shareholder resolutions and direct engagement to prompt companies to disclose their climate risks and adapt.

Key Findings

  • Australia’s “Angry Summer” of extreme weather in 2013 cost the economy $8 billion and was followed by another summer of extremes in 2016-2017.
  • Construction, mining and manufacturing constitute almost 20 percent of Australia’s economy and are highly vulnerable to heat stress and water stress, which threaten large swaths of the nation.
  • Boral Limited and Rio Tinto are both Materials companies exposed to water and heat stress in their operations, but they have different risk scores stemming from differing vulnerabilities in their markets and supply chains.
  • Engagement on climate is relatively new for Australian shareholders, but is gaining momentum, with institutional asset managers voting on several climate risk disclosure resolutions in 2018.
  • Investors can address physical climate risk by reviewing their asset allocations, disclosing their own risks, investing in new opportunities and engaging with corporations.

Download the report.

Webinar: Emerging Metrics for Physical Climate Risks Disclosures

This Four Twenty Seven webinar on emerging metrics and best practices for physical climate risks and opportunities disclosures covers recent developments in TCFD and Article 173 reporting, challenges to assessing climate risk exposure, strategies for investors to incorporate this information into decision-making and approaches to build corporate resilience.

Speakers

  1. Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO, presents key findings from the EBRD-GCECA report: Advancing TCFD guidance on physical climate risks and opportunities and emerging best practices in physical risk reporting.
  2. Nik Steinberg, Director of Analytics, shares challenges and approaches for using climate data for business decisions.
  3. Frank Freitas, Chief Development Officer, discusses corporate engagement opportunities for investors and approaches to integrating climate change into investment strategies.
  4. Yoon Kim, Director of Advisory Services, shares examples of innovation in corporate resilience-building.

Engaging with Corporates to Build Adaptive Capacity

June 5, 2018 – 427 REPORT. Shareholder engagement is a critical tool to build resilience in investment portfolios. Investors can help raise awareness of rising risks from climate change, and encourage companies to invest in responsible corporate adaptation measures. We identify top targets for shareholder engagement on physical climate risks and provide data-driven strategies for choosing companies and approaching engagement. Our report includes sample questions as an entry point for investors’ conversations about climate risk and resilience with corporations.

Shareholder engagement on climate change has grown tremendously in recent years. Over 270 investors, managing almost $30 trillion collectively, have committed to engage with the largest greenhouse gas emitters through the Climate Action 100+. In addition to their ongoing efforts to engage and encourage companies to reduce emissions, investors are becoming aware of the financial risks from extreme weather and climate change. Climate change increases downside risks: a negative repricing of assets is already being seen where climate impacts are most obvious, such as coastal areas of Miami. As climate change can negatively impact company valuations, investors must strive to bolster governance and adaptive capacity to help companies build resilience.

This Four Twenty Seven report, From Risk to Resilience – Engaging with Corporates to Build Adaptive Capacity, explains the value of engagement, for both corporations and investors and describes data and case studies to drive engagement strategies. While news coverage of extreme weather events can clue investors in to which corporations may be experiencing climate-driven financial damage, new data can empower investors to identify systemic climate risk factors and proactively engage companies likely to experience impacts in the future. Reactive engagement strategies based on news stories can also use data to more thoroughly explore corporations highlighted in the news, by examining other hazards that may pose harm to their operations.

The report also identifies the Top 10 companies with the highest exposure to physical climate risk in the Climate Action 100+ and calls for investors to leverage their engagement on emissions to also address urgent issues around climate impacts and building resilience.

Once they identify companies, shareholders can use a variety of questions to gain a deeper understanding of companies’ vulnerability to climate hazards and their governance and planning processes, or adaptive capacity, to build resilience to such impacts. The report provides sample questions for different components of climate risk, including Operations Risk, Market Risk and Supply Chain Risk, as well as Adaptive Capacity.

Key Takeaways

• The impacts of a changing climate pose significant downside risk for companies; a risk bound to increase as the climate continues to degrade.
• At present, investors are likely to become aware of exposure to financial damages from extreme weather events only after they have occurred. Disclosure is limited but gaining traction.
• Corporate engagement is a tool to encourage companies to deploy capital and technical assistance to build resilience in their operations and supply chains.
• Investors can select target companies reactively based on prior incidents or pro-actively identify firms that would benefit from resilience plans.
• Investors should question companies on their exposure to physical climate risks via their operations, supply chain and market, as well as how they are building resilience to these risks through risk management and responsible corporate adaptation strategies.

Download the report.

Download the press release.

Webinar: Building City-level Climate Resilience

This Four Twenty Seven webinar familiarizes participants with an approach for assessing city-level physical climate risks and provides insight into concrete actions that cities can take to more effectively attract investor financing for climate adaptation and resilience.

Speakers

  1.  Nik Steinberg (Director of Analytics, Four Twenty Seven) provides an overview of Four Twenty Seven’s approach to assessing city-level physical climate risks.
  2. Lisa Schroeer (Senior Director and Sector Leader, S&P Global) speaks about how the ratings agency is incorporating physical climate risks into its view of city and county  credit risk.
  3. Ksenia Koban (Vice President and Municipal Strategist, Payden & Rygel) offers insight into the factors that investors are looking at when determining whether to make city-level climate resilience investments and what cities can do more successfully to attract investor financing for climate adaptation and resilience.

Read Four Twenty Seven’s report on Assessing Exposure to Climate Change in U.S. Munies and learn more about our advisory services for risk assessments, adaptation finance and policy consulting.

Every City Has its Hazards: 427 Interview

Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas, discusses Four Twenty Seven’s report on Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities on the Midday Briefing. During this brief interview Frank describes Four Twenty Seven’s work as a data provider for investors, highlights the ubiquity of climate hazards across United States munies and explains the impact of both acute events like hurricanes and more subtlety destructive chronic stresses such as drought.

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.

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!