Newsletter: A Dire Warning

Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate adaptation and resilience. This month, we focus on recent scientific evidence of growing climate impacts, and highlight new resources to help the financial sector take action and manage exposure to climate change.

In Focus: Science Calls for Urgent Action

Recent Scientific Reports Send Dire Warning on Rapid Climate Change

At least 15 extreme weather events during 2017 were made more likely due to climate change according to the seventh "Explaining Extreme Events" report released last week. The research by the American Meteorological Society examined 16 extreme weather events for climate fingerprints, finding that climate change influenced events ranging from droughts in the U.S. and East Africa to floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heat waves in the Mediterranean and China.

Also released last week, NOAA's 2018 Arctic Report Card finds that Arctic air temperatures are still warming twice as fast as elsewhere and that sea ice was younger, thinner and less extensive than other years in 2018.

These findings come on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. This report showed that warming of 1.5°C by 2050 will significantly affect global heat waves, arctic sea ice, sea level rise, species lost, crop yields coral reefs and fisheries. This in turn, will lead to cascading impacts on communities and economies globally.
 

Further Reading

  • About one-third of the Arctic's infrastructure is on permafrost that has a high chance of thawing by mid-century, based on warming that is already locked in, according to a new report published in Nature (read the summary on Earther). 
  • The New York Times' Brad Plumer outlines five key adaptation takeaways from the U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment, which includes a chapter on adaptation.
  • This is an engaging and deep exploration of the diverse impacts of climate change on ocean life and the rippling effects it has on economies and livelihoods around the world, from Reuters. 
Four Twenty Seven Wins Risk Markets Technology Alternative Data Provider Award 

Award Reflects Growing Interest of Financial Markets in Climate Data

Four Twenty Seven was awarded the 2019 Risk Markets Technology Award for Alternative Data Vendor of the Year. The Risk Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious among industry commendations,  recognizing leadership in the global derivatives markets and in risk management.

The award from Risk Magazine is a clear signal that financial markets are starting to take climate risk seriously. Investors who wish to develop a fully-informed view of their portfolios need forward-looking data on the impacts of climate change on corporations and public issuers and they're increasingly eager for this data. A judge noted that Four Twenty Seven's “Deep datasets and sophisticated analytics, [are] setting a high bar in what will become of increasing concern to investors.” 

Announcements at COP 24 echoed this theme, as 415 asset managers wrote a letter urging their governments to act on climate change, accompanied by a briefing paper for policy-makers emphasizing the economic risks posed by climate change and the importance of the Paris Agreement. Investor action is also growing in the U.S., where banks such as Bank of America and BNP Paribas joined the new U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance to help propel adaptation and clean energy investment in the U.S. 
Read Risk Magazine's Announcement
Industry Guidance on Financial Climate Risks

Navigating Climate Scenario Analysis

This guide to scenario analysis provides resources for institutional investors to leverage scenario analysis for both transition and physical risks. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) highlights 10 key takeaways, surveying the current landscape of scenario analysis and emphasizing the importance of understanding the process and intentionally weighing the trade-offs between comprehensive and simple approaches. IIGCC also includes examples from asset managers already working on this and features a list of curated data providers, including Four Twenty Seven. 

Getting started on Physical Climate Risk analysis in finance -
Available approaches and the way forward

The Institute for Climate Economics surveys the landscape of financial climate data providers, in this report for investors. The report provides a detailed comparison of relevant data offerings that currently enable investors to assess and address climate risk in their portfolios, including numerous references to Four Twenty Seven's data products for equities, munis, sovereigns and real assets. The analysis compares providers based on their time horizon, intended audience, hazards, granularity and use cases.

Experts on Climate Change

This DWS report integrates several perspectives on the implications of climate change for institutional investors, starting with a scientific call to action from Dr. Emily Shuckburgh at the British Antarctic Survey. The report is a compilation of essays covering the fiduciary duty of trustees to understand the materiality of climate risks, actuarial responsibility to consider climate change, the current landscape of regulation around climate risks and pension funds' view of climate change, and an approach to integrating climate risk into an ESG engine. 

The Private Sector's Climate Change Risk and Adaptation Blind Spots


New research on corporate CDP responses reveals that corporate disclosures likely underestimate the costs of physical climate-related risks and that few companies disclosed indirect climate risks relating to the broader community, which affect businesses through supply chains, consumer preferences, and employee commutes. The report shows 76% of companies reporting climate risks use soft adaptation approaches, such as planning, 47% used hard approaches such as technology upgrades and only 3.3% reported ecosystem-based adaptation. As more businesses asses their exposure to climate change risks, they must take the next step of investing in adaptation.
Upcoming Events

Join the Four Twenty Seven team at these upcoming events:

  • January 6-10 – 99th AMS Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ: Senior Data Analyst, Josh Turner, will present a poster on the California Heat Assessment Tool and Senior Data Analyst, Colin Gannon, will also join this convening of meteorologists and climate scientists.
  • January 7-10 NCSE 2019 Annual Conference, Washington, DC: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, and Strategic Advisor, Josh Sawislak, will facilitate sessions on private sector roles in building community resilience and on climate-ready infrastructure, respectively.
  • February 12 – Investing for Impact, New York, NY: Hear Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, present on adaptation as an impact investment opportunity at this annual convening hosted by The Economist.
  • March 20-22 – Climate Leadership Conference, Baltimore, MD: Emilie Mazzacurati will speak about the evolving landscape of climate risk disclosure.
  • April 10-12 – RI Asia Japan, Tokyo, Japan: Chief Development Officer, Frank Freitas, will present on climate analytics for investors.  
  • April 13-16  – APA National Planning Conference, San Francisco, CA: Yoon Kim and Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg, will speak on a panel called, "Beyond Vulnerability: Innovative Adaptation Planning."
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Four Twenty Seven sends a newsletter focused on bringing climate intelligence into economic and financial decision-making for investors, corporations and governments. Fill in the form below to join our mailing list. As data controller, we collect your email address with your consent in order to send you our newsletter. Four Twenty Seven will never share your mailing information with anyone and you may unsubscribe at any moment. Please read our Terms and Conditions.
 

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Using Climate Data – 427 Technical Brief

April 25, 2018 – 427 TECHNICAL BRIEF. Financial institutions, corporations, and governments  increasingly strive to identify and respond to risks driven by physical climate impacts. Understanding the risks posed by climate change for facilities or infrastructure assets starts with conducting a risk assessment, which requires an understanding of the physical impacts of climate change. However, climate data in its raw form is difficult to integrate into enterprise risk management, financial risk modelling processes, and capital planning. This primer provides a brief introduction to climate models and data from a business or government perspective.

The first of several reports explaining the data and climate hazards analyzed in Four Twenty Seven’s equity risk scores and portfolio analytics, Using Climate Data unpacks the process through which raw climate data is transformed into usable metrics, such as future temperature projections, to help financial, corporate and government users productively incorporate climate-based analytics into their workflows. Beginning by explaining what a global climate model is, the report explains climate data’s format, computational choices to hedge uncertainty and resources for aggregated climate projections tailored to specific audiences.

Key  Takeaways

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

Download the Report.

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

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

1.    Climate change presents physical risks

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

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

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

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

2.    A changing climate creates liability risk

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

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

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

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

3.    Climate change will create more stranded assets

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

By Sam Irvine

Climate Change and the Maritime Industry

Maritime shipping boat
Maritime shipping is particularly vulnerable to climate change. (Image source: www.internationalshipping.com)

If there is a front line in the war on climate change, it is the world’s coasts. And if there will be casualties from the hard-fought battle, the hardest hit could be the maritime shipping industry.  This was the case in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina charged into Louisiana, battered the Port of Gulfport, handily tossed aside shipping containers, prompting $250 million worth of repairs.

The maritime shipping industry, comprised primarily of ports and shipping companies, is positioned in a truly difficult spot when it comes to dealing with the adverse effects of climate change, which will be hitting the industry from all angles.

First and foremost, sea level rise – caused by melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms – threatens port infrastructure, which is by necessity situated at sea level. It’s worth noting that the rate of sea level rise is slow and varies a great deal from location to location. According to a 2011 survey, many ports note that they tend to plan with less than a 10-year outlook, although infrastructure is built to last multiple decades. So although sea level rise will occur at what may seem like a snail’s pace, the change is certainly large enough to be a factor when considering the current state of the industry’s planning and building practices.

Ships pile up on land after Hurricane Katrina
Ships pile up on land after Hurricane Katrina (Source: NOAA)

Of course, sea level rise itself is not the main direct impact, it is what happens because of it – more frequent and intense flooding. As sea level rises, it will take increasingly weak storms and their resulting storm surges to impact infrastructure on land. This is not just an issue for port infrastructure. Inundation from storm surge can impact the operations of port facilities by preventing laborers from getting to work, by increasing downtime and consequently delays, or by raising costs from relocation or repair of flooded facilities.

 The list of direct impacts for the maritime shipping industry are numerous: higher temperatures increase refrigeration costs, increased storminess could force longer and more expensive shipping routes, or intensified rainfall events delaying loading/unloading of cargo at ports.

 While these impacts are highly concerning, the degree of their impacts can be reasonably well understood, and actions can be taken directly by ports and shipping companies to mitigate their risks.

Perhaps more disconcerting are the indirect impacts that climate change presents to this industry. Widespread climate change will bring macro-level changes to the demand and supply of goods handled by shipping companies and passing through ports.

DroughMississipiRiver
The 2012-2013 drought in the Midwest stranded dozens of ships on the Mississipi and impacted supply of agricultural goods (Source: Bloomberg)

Take for instance the largest port in the country, the Port of South Louisiana, which lies along the southernmost stretch of the Mississippi River and processes 60% of the Midwest’s grain exports. As drought and extreme heat continue to ravage the region, corn, soybean, and wheat output from states like Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, which traditionally export their product via the Mississippi River, will plummet. The indirect consequence is that shipping companies will have less demand for their services, and ports will not earn as much profit as the quantity in business diminishes.

The maritime shipping industry is directly in the cross hairs of climate change, and yet strikingly few port administrators are planning for its consequences. Depending on location, infrastructure, and products, there are myriad negative consequences that will be felt by shipping companies and ports. It is time for this sector to prepare for changes and ensure that they can rebound from disasters and be responsive to a changing climate.

By Colin Gannon