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!

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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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.

EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance

Reaching the goals of the Paris agreement, and financing a sustainable, resource-efficient economy, requires a transformation of the whole financial system. Understanding that private-sector investments must be joined by a transformation of the regulatory landscape, the European Commission created the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG) in December 2016. As the need for reform spans across all facets of the sector, HLEG members include experts from banking, insurance, asset management, stock exchanges and others. The group acknowledges that a sustainable society depends upon enduring and inclusive economic prosperity and that the financial system has a responsibility to drive change towards this sustainability. Thus, the HLEG aims 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.

After releasing an interim report and soliciting public feedback in July, the HLEG released its final recommendations for actions  to facilitate this financial system reform. The report describes a set of priority recommendations and a set of “cross-cutting recommendations.” The former include developing an EU sustainability taxonomy, pushing investors to focus on ESG factors and consider broader time horizons,  creating European sustainability standards for green bonds and other financing options, identifying investment needs by focusing first on climate mitigation, providing sustainable finance options for retail investors, and integrating sustainability into both the governance and financial oversight of financial institutions. The “cross-cutting” recommendations include embracing long-term vision, empowering citizens to shape a sustainable financial sector, monitoring sustainable investment and delivery, integrating a “Think Sustainability First” outlook throughout EU policy, and promoting global sustainable finance.

HLEG acknowledges that there are other social and environmental issues that must be addressed alongside climate change.  Emphasizing that this report is only the beginning of an enduring effort to create a resilient financial system that supports a sustainable society, HLEG also states the report’s relevance for financial sectors worldwide. 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.

Download the Recommendations.

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.

Newsletter: Are we doing enough? The state of climate adaptation in the US

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss a review of U.S. climate adaptation and a close look at opportunities to build resilience through collaboration.

In Focus: The State of Climate Adaptation


Are we doing enough? How is the field of adaptation developing in the United States? Rising to the Challenge, Together: A Review and Critical Assessment of the State of the US Climate Adaptation Field explores the field’s development, potential and challenges. Commissioned by the Kresge Foundation, the report was co-authored by Susanne C. Moser of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, Joyce Coffee of Climate Resilience Consulting, and Aleka Seville in her capacity as Four Twenty Seven’s Director of Community Adaptation in 2017.

Based on a literature review and dozens of interviews with thought leaders and adaptation practitioners, this report finds that the emerging field of climate adaptation must continue to develop with increased urgency. Communities across the country are experimenting with adaptation, with the support of a growing knowledge base and suite of tools, and boosted by new actors including utility managers, private sector interests and philanthropy.

However, the field is largely crisis-driven and fails to adequately address the social equity aspects of adaptation choices, that should ensure all people benefit regardless of socio-economic status or race.  It also lacks a shared vision, consistent funding and agreed upon best practices among other shortcomings, the report found. The report recommends aggressive acceleration of adaptation planning, coordination across jurisdictions, and implementation among advocates, planners, and funders. Read more.

Read the Report

The United States of Climate Change


With examples from every state in the U.S. this United States of Climate Change” feature from The Weather Channel displays the vast, dire and varied implications of climate change. It also documents communities’ efforts to adapt to a rapidly changing world. From new species of pathogen-hosting mosquitoes flourishing in Mississippi to “flash droughts” threatening barley in small Montana towns that depend on selling the crop to beer brewers, there is a plethora of local stories highlighting cultural, social and economic impacts of climate change. The Washington Post reports on the thinking behind Weather.com’s framing of this feature.

For more examples of climate change’s local impacts, read about Four Twenty Seven’s work examining the impacts of climate change on Delaware’s workforce and our analysis of extreme heat and public health in Denver.

Working with businesses to build community resilience

As increasing numbers of climate disasters cause over $1 billion in damages, the economic impacts of these events are widespread and ongoing. California wine-growers will feel the financial effects for years as they work to rebuild their vineyards, while the communities that depend on this economy will also feel these consequences. Four Twenty Seven’s blog post “Working with Businesses to Build Community Resilience” outlines opportunities for local governments and businesses to support each other in adaptation efforts.

Businesses and communities depend on each other and have important roles to play in collaborative climate change preparation. While businesses rely on resilient infrastructure and city services, they can also support community recovery efforts and participate in planning. Likewise, local governments can create collaborative networks, share resources and engage businesses. Read more.

Read the Blog

Resources on Engaging Businesses in Adaptation

For more insight on corporate adaptation read the Caring for Climate report, The Business Case for Corporate Adaptation, which highlights the benefits for businesses to build their awareness of climate risk and opportunities for policymakers to encourage corporate adaptation.

Will Amazon HQ2 consider resilience?

Eager for an opportunity for up to 50,000 jobs and a potential $5 billion in investment, twenty cities received the anticipated advancement to the list of finalists for Amazon’s HQ2 last month. Among this short list is the Southeast Florida bid, a collaboration between Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

These counties have experience working together through the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, which also includes Monroe County. The compact’s Regional Climate Action Plan emphasizes the importance of regional strategies to build resilient economies and communities. Now the benefits of this collaboration are becoming increasingly clear, as many of the regional compact’s priorities, such as addressing sea level rise and improving infrastructure, are also important for bolstering economic success by helping to attract Amazon and other businesses to the region.

Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Meet the Team: Lindsay Ross

Four Twenty Seven is delighted to welcome Lindsay Ross, who joins the team as a Senior Analyst, Macroeconomic Risks. Lindsay analyzes the economic impacts of climate change on corporations and financial markets. She studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), focusing on Energy, Resources, and the Environment as well as International Finance and Economics. Previously she worked for the U.S. International Trade Commission, assisting with research on the impacts of international trade on the U.S. economy.

Upcoming Events

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

  • February 13: Climate Risk: From Assessment to Action, Washington, DC: CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, will speak on a panel at this workshop hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank
  • February 28 – March 2: Climate Leadership Conference, Denver, CO: Climate Adaptation Senior Analyst, Kendall Starkman, will attend this gathering of climate, sustainability and energy professionals.
  • March 6: Inaugural Conference: Northern European Partnership for Sustainable Finance (NEPSF), London, UK. Emilie Mazzacurati will join the launch of this new Partnership to support sustainable finance.
  • June 18-21: Adaptation Futures 2018, Cape Town, South Africa: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will facilitate a session at this conference, exploring integrating climate risks into infrastructure investment decisions.
  • 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.

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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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Report: A Review of Climate Adaptation in the US

Events once considered “hundred year” disasters increasingly occur several times in individual lifetimes. In the face of urgent crisis, community leaders, businesses, nonprofits and individuals have seen a need to build resilience, to preserve human lives and the economies upon which they depend. Recognizing the emergence of a field of climate adaptation and seeking details on the field’s development, potential and challenges, the Kresge Foundation commissioned an assessment of the field of adaptation. This project culminated in a report, Rising to the Challenge, Together: A Review and Critical Assessment of the State of the US Climate Adaptation Field, by  Susanne C. Moser of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, Joyce Coffee of Climate Resilience Solutions, and Aleka Seville, Four Twenty Seven’s Director of Community Adaptation at the time. Read the full press release below:

Download the Full ReportDownload the Executive Summary • Download the Appendices

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The emerging field of climate adaptation is growing in sophistication and influence, but there is a significant gap between the magnitude of the challenge and existing efforts to protect people and property from climate volatility, according to a report released today.

“Rising to the Challenge, Together” provides a critical assessment of the state of the climate adaptation field in the U.S. It was commissioned by The Kresge Foundation and authored by a trio of adaptation experts: Susanne C. Moser of Susanne Moser Research and Consulting; Joyce Coffee of Climate Resilience Consulting; and Aleka Seville of Four Twenty Seven, Inc.

The report finds that the challenge of climate adaptation and resilience is an everyday reality for decision makers across the United States. Climate change is widely recognized as a critical – possibly existential – threat to humans, other species, and the natural systems on which all life depends. As climate impacts accelerate and population grows in vulnerable areas, disasters are more frequent and more devastating.  Supercharged storms, catastrophic wildfires, and deadly heatwaves affect growing numbers of Americans – particularly those with low incomes who are least able to avoid or minimize the impact of severe events.

Communities across the country are experimenting with adaptation, defined as the management of and preparation for the impacts of global climate change and related extremes. They are aided by a growing knowledge base and suite of tools, and boosted by new actors including utility managers, private sector interests and philanthropy.

However, the field is largely crisis-driven and fails to adequately address the social equity aspects of adaptation choices, that should ensure all people benefit regardless of socio-economic status or race.  It also lacks a shared vision, consistent funding and agreed upon best practices among other shortcomings, the report found.

“Our research revealed a growing core of professionals, committed municipal leaders, engaged community residents and others who are proactively identifying ways to make their cities and regions more resilient,” said author Susanne C. Moser. “But without much-accelerated efforts to expand and professionalize the adaptation field we fear communities, businesses and particularly the most vulnerable are at growing risk. To ensure their safety, well-being and prosperity, we must rapidly come together to slow the release of planet-warming greenhouse gases; invest in smarter, more resilient systems, infrastructure and planning practices; and do both while building social cohesion and equity.”

The report’s findings and recommendations were the basis of a next-steps conversation among several dozen climate-resilience experts and thought leaders at a January 22 workshop in Washington, D.C. At that meeting participants discussed ways to better disseminate promising resilience practices, embed climate resilience in planning and policymaking, and generate new financing mechanisms for the work.

The report recommends aggressive acceleration of adaptation planning, coordination across jurisdictions, and implementation among advocates, planners, and funders. Leaders must press the urgency of addressing climate change both through adaptation and mitigation – pushing the field to think bigger, bolder and deeper. At the same time, funding support must grow and policy incentives should be aligned to support the incorporation of resilience across different practices and sectors.

“This report highlights the urgency of building climate adaptation as a field of practice,” said Lois DeBacker, managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program. “It is critical to expand the number of people who understand the imperative of acting quickly, which actions yield the best and most effective protections against climate change-fueled events, and how to approach climate resilience in ways that advance equity.”

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Working with Businesses to Build Community Resilience

The year 2017 will stay on the record as one of the most expensive years to date for climate and weather disaster events. The U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters that caused over $1 billion in damages, tying the record year of 2011 for the most billion-dollar disasters. From summer through the fall, wildfires in various parts of California led to fatalities, destruction of entire communities, and damage costs of $18 billion, with economic consequences that will continue to impact the region. These events have highlighted that climate change has already begun to and will continue to impact local communities and businesses, and that local economies will benefit from more coordinated resilience planning.

Communities across the U.S. are taking steps to identify their climate change risks and enhance their resilience to changing climate conditions. Many local governments have assessed their vulnerabilities and are developing resilience plans with support from local stakeholders. However, a key set of stakeholders are often not at the table: businesses. Collaboration between local governments and the business community on climate change resilience remains limited. As local and regional climate change planning continues, it becomes increasingly important for local governments to engage with businesses, both large and small, on these issues.

The success of businesses and communities is intertwined

Many larger companies recognize the impacts of climate change on their operations, including risks to physical assets, disruptions to supply chains, and impacts on their workforce. In fact, some businesses, like Google, are examining how to develop company resilience strategies that address changing climate conditions. Businesses are also dependent on public infrastructure and local government services, and climate risks on these “outside the fence” components are much harder for businesses to evaluate. In fact, a number of companies have highlighted these uncertainties as a major barrier in addressing adaptation.

Local governments are dependent on the private sector in many ways. Businesses are essential to the economic health and growth of communities. Business interruptions can affect the quality of life for residents, disrupt the local economy, and reduce tax revenues. The costs of Hurricane Harvey are still being evaluated, but preliminary estimates suggest that lost economic output from this storm was in the range of $9 billion to $11 billion, including $540 million for goods-producing industries and $141 million for oil and gas industries. The October 2017 wildfires in California’s wine country are estimated to have caused economic losses between $6 and $8 billion dollars due to property damage and business interruptions alone, with $789 million in commercial property claims. These costs do not include the potential losses to the wine industry for many years to come.

Local governments have a strong interest in ensuring that businesses are resilient and remain operational as the climate continues to change. Companies will also benefit from engaging with the public sector on community resilience to enhance their business continuity plans and support their employees. In addition to better protecting their employees and operations, this type of collaboration will help businesses better understand community needs.

Businesses can assist local governments with expertise and solutions

Larger businesses often already understand local risks because of internal risk management processes. Risk management and emergency management plans, along with drills and training exercises with employees, help businesses prepare for extreme events. Local governments can coordinate with businesses on risk management, including participating in drills and trainings, to build and maintain community resilience.

Local governments can also use larger companies’ expertise and data on risk. Businesses may be monitoring information that could be relevant to local resilience planning. For example, utilities often track potential risks to their assets, such as those related to storms (e.g., wind, precipitation, flooding), wildfire, and temperature impacts on energy demand. This information can be helpful to local decision-makers in both emergency management and long-term resilience planning.

The private sector also offers opportunities in services and solutions. Businesses are often interested in developing and improving technologies, engineering approaches, technical assistance, and opportunities to connect with their communities. For example, Airbnb offered disaster relief to people impacted by the California wildfires, connecting displaced residents to available housing. The company also worked with the City of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management to share their lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy. Airbnb is also partnering with various local governments to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters. Local governments’ suggestions for climate change solutions and services can help businesses tailor their products to best serve the community.

In addition, financing for implementing community resilience can often be a challenge for local governments. The private sector can offer financing solutions to help fund climate change resilience. For example, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is investing $1 million over five years through their Better Together Resilient Communities grant program to support local climate resilience initiatives in California.

Local governments can share data and information with businesses

Some local governments have undertaken vulnerability assessments and climate change scenario planning for their regions. The data and results from these studies can be shared with businesses to help them understand what assumptions are being used by local governments, and whether their scenarios align, which will be increasingly important to ensure regional coordination as conditions change.

While larger companies may undertake scenario planning and vulnerability assessments, most small businesses do not. However, small businesses can also benefit from data and information sharing. Small companies do not often have the expertise or resources to adequately assess climate change risks and undertake resilience planning. Local governments can share information with small businesses to help them better understand their potential risks and prepare for extreme events. In California, Valley Vision has developed the Capital Region Business Resiliency Initiative to help engage the small business community in resilience planning. This effort helps small businesses engage with local stakeholders to understand potential risks and provides resources to help these businesses plan for disaster resilience.

Local governments can engage with businesses through existing networks or by creating new processes to assist with engagement

Local governments can engage with both small and large businesses through networks and organizations for the private sector, like local chambers of commerce, trade associations, and other business networking groups. For example, the City of Annapolis has engaged the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Annapolis Partnership in its Weather It Together initiative, which is focused on adapting the historic community to minimize the risks associated with flooding. Through this effort, local businesses are part of the planning process to help the community become more resilient. The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts has also engaged businesses in long-term planning efforts like the Cambridge Compact and the city’s Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience Plan. Establishing public-private partnerships focused on climate resilience will also help to facilitate conversations and collaboration between these two sectors.

Local governments may already engage with businesses individually, but it can be helpful to set up an ongoing process for involving the private sector in resilience planning. For example, business representatives can participate in local planning and advisory committees, contributing their perspectives and identifying any key issues for the business community. Effectively engaging the business community will often require targeted outreach and potentially different strategies, as businesses may not be aware of ongoing stakeholder processes or may not realize their relevance to company needs. Some communities have incorporated businesses into resilience planning through regional climate collaboratives. Several regional climate collaboratives in California focus on engaging different stakeholder groups, including businesses, to further climate change planning. For example, the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership was founded by the Sierra Business Council and has various business members, including ski resorts and forestry companies.

Effectively preparing for climate change’s impacts requires that cities coordinate with many different stakeholders. Businesses, public agencies, community groups, and citizens are all important to the discussion on community resilience, as they will all be impacted by climate change and have important ideas to contribute. Engaging the private sector is an important way for local governments to improve community resilience, and will benefit both the public and private sector through information sharing, aligning needs and goals, and developing multi-sector networks.

Newsletter: New Report on Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, don’t miss funding opportunities for local adaptation and a closer look at resilient infrastructure! 

In Focus: Infrastructure Resilience

Lenders’ Guide: Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments


Climate change poses multifaceted physical risks for infrastructure investors, including decreasing revenue due to operational capacity limits, increasing maintenance costs from physical damage, decreasing asset value, and increasing liability and debt. Four Twenty Seven, with our partners Acclimatise and Climate Finance Advisers, published today the Lenders’ Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments.” This new report provides banking institutions and infrastructure investors with a brief introduction to the ways that physical climate risks can affect infrastructure investment. The guide includes ten illustrative “snapshots” describing climate change considerations in example sub-industries such as commercial real estate, power plants, and hospitals.

Read Lender’s Guide

Built to Last

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ white paper, Built to Last: Challenges and Opportunities for Climate-Smart Infrastructure in California, responds to Executive Order B-30-15, which mandates that state agencies plan for climate change. The paper makes suggestions for policies that support resilient infrastructure with co-benefits for human and ecosystem health and mitigation. Recommendations cover tools and standards, financial assessments and institutional capacity building.

Read the White Paper

How to Incorporate Climate in Local Planning

Local Adaptation Planning: Four Twenty Seven’s Process Guide

United States cities face increasing challenges from climate change impacts and increasing legislation requiring that they prepare for these impacts. Through our work assisting eight cities in Alameda County in responding to California’s Senate Bill No. 379 Land Use: General Plan: Safety Element (Jackson) (SB 379), Four Twenty Seven developed a streamlined process to support local governments’ efforts to integrate climate risks into key planning efforts, such as local hazard mitigation plans, general plans and climate action plans. SB 379 requires cities and counties in California to incorporate adaptation and resilience strategies into General Plan Safety Elements and Local Hazard Mitigation Plans starting in 2017.

Four Twenty Seven’s Process Guide for Local Adaptation Planning outlines two steps for effective climate adaptation planning: 1) a hazard assessment to determine vulnerability and 2) identification of appropriate adaptation options.

Read the Process Guide

“Planning and Investing for a Resilient California” – Guidance Document

As fires and floods rage up and down the coast and lives and livelihoods are lost and damaged, the call for resilience feels increasingly urgent each day. A resilient California is a state with strong infrastructure, communities and natural systems that can withstand increasingly volatile conditions.
To support the implementation of  Executive Order B-30-15, mandating that state agencies plan for climate change, the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research released “Planning and Investing for a Resilient California,” a guidance document outlining strategies to include climate adaptation in decision-making. Four Twenty Seven CEO Emilie Mazzacurati served on the Technical Advisory Group that wrote the report.

The guide outlines four steps for integrating climate into decisions: characterizing climate risk, analyzing climate risk, making climate-informed decisions and monitoring progress. Ending with a closer look at investing in resilient infrastructure, the document provides actionable guidelines for building a resilient California.

Read the Guidance Document

Climate Change Threatens City Credit Ratings

“What we want people to realize is: If you’re exposed, we know that. We’re going to ask questions about what you’re doing to mitigate that exposure,” Lenny Jones, a managing director at Moody’s was quoted by Bloomberg. “That’s taken into your credit ratings.” Jones is explaining the thinking behind a recent Moody’s report that urged cities and states to act upon their climate risk or face potential credit downgrades. Moody’s is not the only credit agency in this conversation, as others including Standard & Poor’s are increasingly publicizing their inclusion of climate risk in credit ratings.These steps by rating agencies may provide the extra impetus that municipalities need to examine their climate risks and take action.

Four Twenty Seven conducts research on urban resilience to climate risks and offers real asset screening and portfolio analytics to help investors identify and respond to risks in their portfolios.

Funding Opportunities and Finance Guide

Resilient by Design Finance Guide

The recently published Finance Guide for Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge Design Teams, for challenge participants, outlines traditional funding resources for infrastructure in California and describes other potential funding opportunities that have not traditionally been used for this purpose. It also highlights requirements particular to this state.

Funding Opportunities

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is accepting grant proposals for funding from Proposition 1. Priorities for this funding include projects that address sea level rise, benefit marine managed areas, support fishery infrastructure that protects ecosystems, and reduce the risk of communities to hazardous sites threatened by flooding. Find all relevant information on OPC’s Prop 1 website.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has initiated a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for federally recognized tribes, local governments, nonprofits and state agencies to implement FEMA approved Local Hazard Mitigation Plans.Deadline: January 30, 2018.

Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Meet Andrew Tom, Business Data Analyst

Four Twenty Seven is proud to announce the addition of Andrew Tom to our team. Andrew supports the business data extraction process used in analyzing climate risk for companies and financial markets.

Previously, Andrew led development of various data science projects and prototypes involving machine learning techniques, natural language processing and graph networks. He has also worked in the California State Legislature and in nonprofit leadership capacities.

Upcoming Events

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

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Lenders’ Guide for Considering Climate Risk in Infrastructure Investments

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

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

Climate Change and Infrastructure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Risks and Opportunities: Sub-Sector Snapshots

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

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

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

Download the Lenders’ Guide. 

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

Newsletter: Commitments.

 

 

Four Twenty Seven’s monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month don’t miss a recap on critical developments from events on climate finance in France and the climate risk report by French pension fund FRR!

From the desk of Emilie

The One Planet Summit organized by President Macron on December 12 to mark the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement offered a stark reminder of how little progress has been made towards altering the course of runaway emissions globally. In Macron’s words: we’re losing the battle. Every day, new scientific research demonstrates that sea level rise and ice melt will reshape the planet in ways humans have never experienced before. Every day, news breaks of storms, floods, or wildfires that break historical records and devastate lives and livelihoods globally. And global emissions are on the rise again.

Yet the One Planet Summit, and the preceding Climate Finance Day, was also an inspiring display of commitments and signaled a shift in how global financial institutions apprehend climate change. Over the course of the past few years, climate change has gone from a marginal topic to a boardroom concern. The reality is just starting to settle in that a 2-degree world will bring massive disruption to the earth’s meteorological system, and that economic actors need to understand the implications of these massive changes on the global economy, on assets and corporate value chains, and on financial markets.Some of the most striking commitments announced on December 12 include:

  1. Funding for climate adaptation: $3 billion of public-private partnership money to rebuild the Carribean, $650 million from the Gates foundation and other philanthropic institutions to support small-holder farmer adaptation, $300 million into the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund to restore deserted land, and more. While these amounts fall well short of the hundreds of billions of dollars needed for adaptation, they send a signal that adaptation is starting to rise on the agenda.
  2. Integration of climate change into business and financial decisions: Over two hundred companies publicly announced their support for the TCFD recommendations. France and Sweden committed to implementing regulation to support TCFD reporting. The TCFD also announced a Knowledge Hub, hosted by the Climate Disclosure Standard Board (CDSB) in London, to help disseminate best practices and guidance on climate risk disclosures. Last but not least, eight of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, worth $15 trillions in assets, committed to working together to integrate climate considerations into investment decisions.
  3. Taking the full measure of risk: French Central Bank Governor François Villeroy de Galhau announced a new network of eight central banks committed to reinforcing green finance and understanding the risk from climate change on the financial system, emphasizing that “climate stability is, in the long run, part of the determinants of financial stability.”

These commitments, and the more quiet effort of many companies and investors to start mapping risk in their portfolio, point to a larger change in how the market views climate change risk, and signals that adaptation and resilience are going to rise on the agenda for both the public and private sector over the coming years. In this context, Four Twenty Seven’s mission becomes even more critical. Our work enables investors and corporations to integrate climate analytics into business and policy decisions – a critical step to catalyze climate adaptation and resilience investments.

Our commitment for 2018 is to work tirelessly to improve the transparency and quantification of climate risk in financial markets, and to support responsible corporate adaptation and opportunities for public and private institutions to work together to build resilience in the global economy and for the most vulnerable communities.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season,

Emilie and the Four Twenty Seven team

In Focus: French pension fund FRR’s climate risk disclosures under Art. 173

France has been heralded as a global leader on climate risk disclosure with the passage of the Energy Transition Law, in which Article 173 mandates financial institutions to disclose their exposure to both transition and physical climate risk. Pension fund Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) responded to this legislation with an extensive report on the risks that climate change poses for its portfolios. Four Twenty Seven contributed the analysis of physical risk, conducting a sector analysis of FRR’s portfolios to identify exposure to physical climate risk by sector.

Four Twenty Seven opens Paris office, joins flagship initiative Finance for Tomorrow

Four Twenty Seven is proud to announce its new office in Paris and to join  Finance for Tomorrow, the flagship initiative from Paris Europlace to promote France as a world leader in green finance. Four Twenty Seven is one of the first 50 members of this new French initiative, which promoted 50 ClimActs from its members during Climate Finance Day. Finance for Tomorrow’s scope of work includes promoting financial risk disclosures, continuing France’s momentum on climate risk reporting.

Our European office is now opened in Paris, France:

427 France SAS
2, rue du Helder
75009 Paris, France
Tel: (+33).09.75.18.97.12

GARI releases Investor Guide

The Global Adaptation & Resilience Investment Working Group (GARI) released its Investor Guide to Physical Climate Risk and Resilience yesterday. Serving as a simple introduction to physical climate risk, the guide emphasizes ways that investors can face risks and seize opportunities posed by climate change. It highlights three ways to do so: investigate the physical impacts of climate change on asset values, require asset managers and advisors to consider climate risk and allocate capital to climate-resilient investment. Four Twenty Seven CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati was a lead author on the Investor Guide.

Upcoming Events

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

  • January 7-11: AMS Annual Meeting, Austin, TX: Climate Data Analyst Josh Turner will attend this yearly meeting of the weather, water and climate community.
  • January 23-25: NCSE 18th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment, Washington, DC: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will attend this conference on The Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure, to facilitate a session exploring how infrastructure banks and other investors can integrate climate risks in investment decision-making.
  • February 28-March 2: 2018 Climate Leadership Conference, Denver, CO: Meet with Senior Analyst Kendall Starkman at this annual milestone on climate leadership for U.S. corporations and cities.

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Copyright © 2017 Four Twenty Seven, All rights reserved.
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:
Four Twenty Seven
2000 Hearst Ave
Ste 304
Berkeley, CA 94709Add us to your address bookWant to change how you receive these emails?
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