Climate-driven extreme weather events and the transition to a low-carbon economy are expected to have material impacts on companies, with increasing significance for credit analysis. However, both physical and transition risks have a wide range of potential outcomes. To better understand the credit implications and prepare for climate risks it is important to assess the rage of possible outcomes for a given sector or company.
In its report, Climate scenarios vital to assess credit impact of carbon transition, physical risks, Moody’s Investors Service describes a conceptual approach to scenario analysis, leveraging Four Twenty Seven’s methodology for physical risks. The transition risk approach begins by assessing the sector-specific credit implications of national commitments to the Paris Agreement based on the IEA Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS). The second step is to assess the implications of a more ambitious transition scenario to see how firms may be affected by more rapid decarbonization. This step leverages the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.
For physical climate risk, Moody’s leverages Four Twenty Seven’s approach for exploring the range of potential outcomes in the next 30 years. It’s important to note that in the near-term the uncertainty in physical outcomes is not driven by policy changes, but rather by scientific uncertainty within the climate models. The climate takes a long time to fully respond to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, so physical climate events in the next few decades will be driven by carbon dioxide that’s already been released. By grouping the outcomes of climate models within a single RCP into low, medium and high tiers one can explore the range of potential severity in climate hazards such as extreme temperature and precipitation. Moody’s will use data from Four Twenty Seven that follows this approach to provide a uniform starting point from which to explore the range of credit implications of different climate hazards across sectors.
To learn more about scenario analysis for physical climate risks read Four Twenty Seven’s paper, Demystifying Climate Scenario Analysis for Financial Stakeholders and check out solutions for investors, banks and corporations to manage their climate risk.
February 27, 2020 – BERKELEY, CA – Four Twenty Seven, an affiliate of Moody’s and the leading publisher of climate data for financial markets, today announces the release of a new on-demand climate risk scoring tool. This application responds to the financial sector’s growing call for the seamless integration of granular, forward-looking climate data into investment decisions and risk management practices.
Users are able to enter location and other data via an intuitive interface and immediately receive information on their assets’ exposure for floods, sea level rise, hurricanes & typhoons, heat stress and water stress to mid-century. The application allows users to browse and download detailed facility scorecards that include data on the underlying risk drivers for each hazard. The application also enables users to toggle between maps and tables to identify regional trends and multi-hazard exposure. Users can perform analyses for large volumes of locations via an API and integrate the outputs into downstream risk management and portfolio analysis applications.
As the material financial impacts of climate change become increasingly evident, understanding and preparing for climate risks is essential. Real estate investors can use Four Twenty Seven’s physical climate risk app for due diligence and proactive risk management across their portfolio of properties. Portfolio managers can leverage the application to report climate risk exposure and enhance portfolio decision-making. Asset owners can evaluate long-term risk exposure and engage with corporations and managers to improve resilience. Banks can score thousands of locations at once to identify risk in commercial and residential lending portfolios. Corporations can identify risk hotspots and opportunities to build resilience in their global operations.
“We are excited to bring our on-demand physical climate risk application to the market. Our app provides access to sophisticated climate model outputs in easily understandable metrics with just a few clicks,” says Four Twenty Seven’s Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati. “Real-time access to forward-looking, location-specific data on climate risk enables investors, banks and corporations to manage their risk and invest in resilience.”
Aggregated Four Twenty Seven climate risk data is now available on the Moody’s Analytics commercial real estate (CRE) platform, the REIS Network. This platform allows users to search extensive real estate data from many applications. Read the press release from Moody’s Analytics:
NEW YORK, February 4, 2020 – Moody’s Analytics is pleased to announce that data and analytics from Four Twenty Seven are now available on the REIS Network, its flagship commercial real estate (CRE) data platform. This combination of data and analytics enables CRE professionals to better understand the exposure of their real estate assets to the physical impacts of climate change, and to factor that insight into their investment decision-making processes.
Four Twenty Seven, which is majority-owned by Moody’s, provides scores and portfolio analytics that quantify exposures to the physical impacts of climate change across a range of asset classes. Each location is analyzed for vulnerability to the physical risks of climate-related factors and other environmental issues such as heat stress, water stress, sea level rise, floods, and extreme weather events.
REIS Network users now have access to aggregated climate risk scores from Four Twenty Seven, which show climate risk threshold levels for commercial property locations ranging from ‘no risk’ to ‘red flag’ or extremely high risk. Together with property data and analytical tools from Moody’s Analytics and our Network partners, the REIS Network is a modular solution offering a holistic view of more than 7 million US CRE locations. Users can transfer data from one product to another within the REIS network of applications and compare multiple sources simultaneously.
“Increasing frequency and intensity of climate events means that understanding the physical impacts of climate change is a priority for all organizations. CRE market participants are particularly exposed to physical risks associated with climate hazards, which could severely impact properties and surrounding communities,” said Keith Berry, Head of the Moody’s Analytics Accelerator. “We are proud to collaborate with our colleagues at Four Twenty Seven to enable more multi-faceted analysis of commercial locations in alignment with our goal of becoming a leading source of data and analytics for the CRE market.”
“We are excited to see the addition of Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk analytics to the Moody’s Analytics REIS Network,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven. “It demonstrates the complementary analytical capabilities of Moody’s and Four Twenty Seven, which together provide an ideal path to help market participants identify the best opportunities that meet their risk profile.”
This collaboration demonstrates Moody’s ongoing commitment, as a global integrated risk assessment firm, to advancing global standards for evaluating climate change, environmental, social and governance (ESG), and sustainable finance risks.
Click here to learn more about the Moody’s Analytics REIS Network.
Click here to learn more about Four Twenty Seven.
December 4, 2019 – 427 REPORT. Scenario analysis is an essential yet challenging component of understanding and preparing for the impacts of climate change on assets, markets and economies. When focusing on the short term, the warming and related impacts we have already committed to calls for scenarios that are decoupled from economic and policy activities and instead focus on the impacts that are already locked in. This report explores which impacts are already locked in, identifies how Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios fit into the conversation, and describes an approach to setting up scenario analysis for near-term physical climate risks.
As the effects of climate change increasingly threaten financial stability, investors and regulators are seeking to understand what impacts lie ahead, and calling for an increase in physical climate risk assessment and disclosure in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). To assess the scale of financial risk posed by physical climate change it is important to quantify risks under different climate scenarios. How will changes in extreme weather patterns, longer droughts and rising seas differ under various scenarios? Answering these questions through scenario analysis helps uncover the range of risks, allowing investors to identify assets and markets that are more likely to become stranded over time and to begin developing forward-looking resilience strategies. However, science-driven, decision-useful scenario analysis poses many challenges for businesses and financial stakeholders today, due to complex feedback loops, varying timescales, and multiple interacting factors that ultimately determine how global climate change manifests.
Figure 2. Distribution of daily extreme temperature changes in 2030-2040, expressed as a percent change, relative to a baseline of 1975-2005 under RCP 8.5. This map shows statistically downscaled global climate models averaged together, for this time frame and scenario. NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections statistically downscales climate model outputs to a ~25 kilometer resolution (see full details here) White areas are excluded because they lack potential for significant economic activity.
This new report, Demystifying Climate Scenario Analysis for Financial Stakeholders, explores which physical impacts are already locked in, identifies how Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios apply, and describes an approach to setting up scenario analysis for near-term physical climate risks. Scenario analysis is often approached from the perspective of transition risk, where policy developments and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets are the key drivers of risk pathways over the near-term, in the next 10 to 30 years. Physical risk, however, requires a different approach. Impacts over the coming decades are largely locked in, making the emissions scenarios less relevant. Unlike transition risk, GHG emission pathways play a minimal role in the behavior of the near-term climate and GHG emission pathways only begin to meaningfully influence global temperatures near mid-century. The uncertainty in physical climate risks in the near-term is driven by uncertainty in physical processes, rather than in policy decisions.
For organizations looking to construct physical climate risk scenarios for risk management and strategy purposes, it is critical to understand the scientific phenomena driving our plausible climate futures. This report outlines an approach called percentile-based analysis, which allows users to explore the range of potential outcomes based on climate model outputs within a single RCP. This offers a flexible, data-driven approach, suitable for portfolio-level screenings, reporting, and in some cases, direct engagement with asset managers.
As climate change increasingly leads to costly disasters, municipalities face challenging choices around rebuilding, preparing proactively and raising funds for these goals. Local governments face different challenges based on their size, economy, resources and geographic location. In this analysis, Moody’s Investor Service looks at Four Twenty Seven’s data on exposure to heat stress in U.S. jurisdictions alongside information on outstanding debt and credit quality.
The analysis found that 21% of outstanding debt that Moody’s rates is exposed to high or very high heat stress. Almost 80% of the roughly $190 billion in debt that’s issued in areas with high exposure to heat stress is in the central U.S. and Florida. The Midwest is projected to experience the most significant rise in extreme temperatures by mid-century. The Southeast, on the other hand, is expected to have a higher number of extreme heat days. However, its residents and infrastructure are more acclimated to hot conditions, which can help alleviate some of the physiological and structural impacts of extreme heat.
Heat stress can lead to increased costs due to infrastructure damage, energy demand and resilience investment and can also threaten public health and economic productivity. However, many jurisdictions in the Southeast and Midwest have characteristics that reduce credit risk. The Southeast tends to have large, diversified economies, as well as large tax bases and growing populations. Meanwhile, the Midwest tends to have strong cash balances alongside median family incomes that help to buffer risk. The credit risk to extreme heat in these regions is largely balanced out by these credit-positive characteristics.
Four Twenty Seven’s municipal climate risk data assesses the exposure of U.S. cities above 50,000 in population and all U.S. counties to floods, heat stress, hurricanes, sea level rise and water stress. To learn more read our analysis, Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities or explore our data products.
Extreme weather events driven by climate change are having severe impacts that are increasingly being seen across Europe. Between 1980 and 2017, weather and climate-related extremes caused approximately €453 billion of total economic losses. Among those losses, it is estimated that only 35% were insured. Climate change has a substantial impact on real estate markets. It can directly damage individual buildings, decrease their value or even lead to assets being rendered unusable. In Europe, floods from extreme rainfall and sea level rise represent a major threat to real estate markets. As climate change leads to more frequent and severe extreme weather events it is increasingly important for real estate investors to understand the climate risk exposure of key assets and prepare for impacts.
To provide a view on physical climate-related risk for the real estate industry in Europe, Four Twenty Seven used a proprietary model that leverages global climate data to provide asset-level risk assessments to physical climate hazards. We analyzed the exposure of 20,816 retail spaces and 16,188 offices in Four Twenty Seven’s database of one million corporate facilities. The real estate sites are owned by over 900 listed companies, out of the 2,000 companies included in our database. We used our climate risk scoring methodology to assess each facility’s exposure to climate hazards, with a focus on floods, sea level rise and heat stress looking out to mid-century. Flood risk and sea level rise are assessed with a precision of 90x90m. Heat stress is evaluated at a 25x25km scale.
We found that 19% of retail spaces and 16% of offices are exposed to floods and/or sea level rise, with floods representing the highest risk for both types of asset. Heat stress also presents significant risk to these facilities.
Inland Floods: A Major Threat for a Warming Europe
Floods are one of the most prominent risks for real estate in Europe. In most European cities, climate change is increasing the frequency and the intensity of heavy precipitation events, threatening urban infrastructure and increasing flooding.
Floods can inundate facilities directly, leading to disrupted operations and equipment damage and can also have indirect impacts on operations by damaging regional transportation, power and communication infrastructure. Fluvial and pluvial floods can increase costs associated with maintenance and repair of buildings, lead to higher insurance premiums, and reduce revenue due to business disruptions.
Floods also have wider impacts on real estate markets. For example, studies looking at the residential market in Germany and Finland show that properties in flood-prone areas are sold at lower prices compared to properties without flood risk.
Retail spaces in the United Kingdom are particularly exposed to flood risks, based on our analysis (Fig. 1). Climate change is likely to contribute to more events like the winter storms of 2015-2016 which resulted in around £1.6 billion of total economic damages in the United Kingdom. Over 20% of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield’s retail assets are located in flood-prone areas.
The amount of rain during heavy precipitation events in Glasgow (Fig. 2) is projected to double by 2030-2040 compared to 1975-2005. London is also exposed to surface, fluvial and tidal floods. In our analysis, London is the city with the highest number of retail spaces in flood-prone areas (Table 1). Its most exposed sites have a 20% probability of being flooded each year, and a 1% probability that the flood depth will be higher than one meter, based on Four Twenty Seven’s data.
Without adaptation measures at the site-level and the city-level, these assets will likely suffer from increasing property damages and potential business disruptions due to more frequent and severe rainstorms. For example, floods can reduce business at retail sites such as clothing stores when consumers may prefer to stay home or be prohibited from shopping by inundated infrastructure. Likewise, grocery stores and other retail sites may experience supply chain disruptions or damaged goods with impacts on sales and revenues.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have a Climate Change Adaptation Program. The English program pledges to construct additional hard defenses and to support communities and businesses in increasing their properties’ and investments’ resilience.
Sea Level Rise: When Beach Front No Longer Means Value
Several recent studies have found that there is potential for severe sea level rise if certain tipping points are reached. For example, East Antarctica is warming faster than previously expected, with immense implications for global sea levels. According to opinions gathered from experts, there is a possibility of sea levels rising to two meters by 2100 under a 5˚C scenario. Without coastal adaptation investment, it is estimated that annual damages, due to storm surges and king tides, could reach up to almost €1 trillion by the end of the century in Europe.
The real estate industry is at the front line of sea level rise risk. Properties can suffer from severe damages leading to maintenance and repair costs. Even if a facility itself is not permanently inundated, it may be rendered unusable if its closest rail and road infrastructure experience chronic disruptions. Sea level rise can also have far-reaching market impacts such as increasing insurance costs and higher local taxes to fund adaptation efforts. The perception of sea level rise risk can also impact an asset’s value. For example, French coastal properties suffered from substantial damages after coastal flooding caused by storm Xynthia in 2012. At the Ile de Ré, a touristic French island close to La Rochelle, material losses had a longer-term effect on the real estate market. Home prices dropped in the most exposed part of the island. Fields previously sought after by developers became classified as non-constructible areas after the storm.
Our assessment found that corporate offices are highly exposed to sea level rise in Europe (Fig. 3). Increasing floods and chronic inundation from sea level rise can affect employee commutes, with implications for business continuity at offices. Assets in Ireland, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom have particularly high exposure.
Copenhagen is highly exposed to sea level rise, with 81% of its offices exposed to coastal flooding. In its Climate Adaptation Plan, the city acknowledges that it will be at high risk of flooding in 2040, stating that if no adaptation measures are undertaken, sea level rise will cause “unacceptable” damage. An asset’s risk to sea level rise will be largely driven by regional adaptation efforts to prepare for flooding from higher tides and storm surge.
Copenhagen has defined a long-term adaptation strategy, including the creation of green infrastructure and flexible spaces that can be inundated during high tides, such as sports fields and parks. The city also constructed dikes and quays to protect it from up to 2 meter storm surges. However, the construction of hard protective infrastructure is leading to very high expenditure for local authorities, which can have impacts on local taxes and the strength of other government services. Adaptation policies may also affect building permit requirements and add restrictions to real estate development. Dublin is the city with the highest number of corporate offices from our database exposed to sea level rise (Table 2). This exposure is concentrated in Dublin’s business district (Fig. 4). Floods in the business district can impact the transportation system, electric grid and telecommunications networks, which all impact local businesses.
Dublin is aware of its risk and has developed a 2019-2024 adaptation plan that budgets the construction of new flood defenses and includes a flood risk management strategy. Property managers and real estate investors can engage with the surrounding community to support these regional resilience-building efforts that will also mitigate the risk to their own assets.
Heat Stress: Shattered Records Becoming the New Norm
Heat stress is a growing concern for Europe. The region experienced two recording-breaking heat waves within two months during summer 2019, affecting public health, hindering productivity and contributing to train delays, with implications for economies across the continent. The decade from 2009-2018 was the warmest on record, with temperatures around 1.7°C above the pre-industrial level in Europe.
Our analysis shows that offices and commercial spaces throughout Europe will experience heat waves that are 21 days longer on average compared to 1975-2005. Based on Four Twenty Seven’s data, Southern Europe is expected to experience the highest increase in the duration of heat waves, with projections showing an additional month of temperatures above the 90th percentile every year in Madrid (Fig. 5). Heat waves will also bring higher temperatures, with an 8% average increase in maximum temperatures by mid-century, and over 10% in Paris, for example. This will manifest in cities experiencing climates typically associated with locations significantly further south. For example, a recent study noted that “Madrid’s climate in 2050 will resemble Marrakech’s climate today, Stockholm will resemble Budapest, London to Barcelona.”
The urban heat island effect and worsening air quality will exacerbate the impacts of increasing average temperatures in many European cities, with implications for human health and economies. Heat stress can create new cooling needs for buildings and thus increase operations costs at real estate assets. This is particularly true for assets such as data centers and retirement residences, with significant cooling needs. Extreme heat can also affect consumer behavior, reducing the desire to window shop outside, for example, but increasing the visitors to air-conditioned facilities such as shopping malls. In the long run, increasing average temperatures could have indirect effects on real estate markets as consumer preferences shift.
To reduce their vulnerability, many cities are adapting to extreme heat by increasing green spaces and the use of reflective materials to reduce the albedo effect, for example. Property managers can model on-site adaptations after these examples, while also contributing to wider regional efforts that reduce the urban heat island effect to preserve public health and economic activity.
Real estate assets are already experiencing the impact of extreme heat and floods across Europe and the real estate industry will continue to be impacted by climate change in the near-term. There is an urgent need for resilience-building across assets to ensure business continuity and reduce financial losses. Understanding asset risk is an essential first step towards building resilience. Asset owners and managers can leverage asset-level risk exposure data, alongside awareness of regional adaptation efforts, to improve the resilience of their assets and engage communities around shared resilience priorities.
 This analysis does not capture coastal flooding for areas further than five kilometers inland from the coast. This limitation may under-represent risk in coastal-adjacent, low-lying areas that extend inland like Amsterdam.
Four Twenty Seven’s ever-growing database now includes close to one million corporate sites and covers 2000 publicly-traded companies. We offer equity risk scoring and real asset screening services to help investors and corporations leverage this data.