Scenario Analysis for Physical Climate Risk: Foundations

The TCFD Status Report published early June 2019 reiterates the need for corporations and financial institutions to perform scenario analysis in a context of uncertainty over climate risk. It notes that while about 56% of companies use scenario analysis, only 33% perform scenario analysis for physical risk. Even fewer firms (43% of those using scenario analysis) disclose their assumptions and findings. The report contains useful case studies, but most focus on transition risk.

Yet a growing number of corporations and financial institutions recognize the need to integrate physical risk into scenario analysis and to develop resilience strategies that address imminent challenges from climate impacts. For example, the most recent IPCC report illustrating the impact of 1.5˚C increase in global temperatures on mean temperatures, extreme temperatures, extreme precipitation and sea levels shows that there will be significant implications for economies even with a 1.5˚C increase in global temperatures. This is still a best case scenario compared to impacts of 2˚C or 2.5˚C warming.

Scenario analysis for physical risk is fundamentally different from transition risk in its challenges and assumptions. This blog series provides our current reflections on how corporations and financial institutions can integrate physical climate risk into scenario analysis. This first blog presents the Foundations, focusing on important characteristics of climate science that affect how climate data can be used to inform scenario analysis for economic and financial risk. The next blog focuses on Equity Markets, with concrete examples of how available data can inform financial stakeholders ready to start putting scenario analysis into action. A forthcoming post will discuss scenario analysis at the asset level for real asset investments and corporate facilities.

Part 1: Foundations

The physical impacts of climate change encompass a range of direct and indirect hazards caused or exacerbated by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Previous publications such as Advancing TFCD Guidance for Physical Risks and Opportunities, for which Four Twenty Seven was a lead author, provide background on these hazards as they pertain to corporate value chains and economic activities. Further information is also available in Cicero’s excellent report, Shades of Climate Risk. Categorizing climate risk for investors.

The Science: Uncertainties and Relevant Time Frames

Rapid developments in atmospheric and climate science over the past 30 years enable us to understand how these physical hazards will evolve over time due to climate change. Sophisticated global climate models project expected changes in key physical phenomena affected by greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration: heat, humidity, precipitation, ocean temperature, ocean acidification, etc. Like any other models, climate models have limitations in their accuracy and ability to correctly simulate complex and interrelated phenomena. However, it is worth noting that since 1973 models have been consistently successful in projecting within the range of warming that we have experienced in the past twenty years. More details on climate data and uncertainties from global climate models can be found in our report, Using Climate Data.

The Bad News: Impacts Are Locked In

Global climate models project different possible outcomes using scenarios called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). RCP scenarios capture differing GHG emissions trajectories based on a representation of plausible global policy outcomes, without specifying the details of the underlying policies that could generate this outcome. These scenarios show that GHG emissions generated over the coming decades will influence the severity of impacts in the long-term, but also that we are already committed to some impacts through 2100 and beyond.

This is particularly noticeable over the “short term.”  When looking at the next 10 to 20 years, projections for temperature and other physical hazards do not present significant differences under different emissions scenarios (Fig 1). This is due to the massive inertia of the Earth’s systems, and the life expectancy of the stock of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. To put it simply, significantly reducing GHG emissions is akin to applying the brakes on a rapidly moving truck. It won’t stop instantaneously. Even if we were to stop emitting GHG altogether, climate change would persist. In the words of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), climate change “represents a substantial multi-century commitment created by the past, present, and future emissions of CO2.”

Figure 1. Temperature increases under different GHG emissions scenarios in the near term. Source: IPCC, as published by Climate Lab Book.

This is by no mean an invitation to give up on reducing GHG emissions. Quite the opposite. Emission reductions are critical to curbing long term impacts and avoiding irreversible effects to our environment (Fig. 2). But for organizations looking at climate data and scenario analysis for risk management and strategy, with a focus on the coming decade(s), this is a critical fact to understand.

Figure 12.5 | Time series of global annual mean surface air temperature anomalies (relative to 1986–2005) from CMIP5 concentration-driven experiments. Projections are shown for each RCP for the multi-model mean (solid lines) and the 5 to 95% range (±1.64 standard deviation) across the distribution of individual models (shading). Discontinuities at 2100 are due to different numbers of models performing the extension runs beyond the 21st century and have no physical meaning. Only one ensemble member is used from each model and numbers in the figure indicate the number of different models contributing to the different time periods. No ranges are given for the RCP6.0 projections beyond 2100 as only two models are available.Source IPCC AR5: Collins, M., R. Knutti, J. Arblaster, J.-L. Dufresne, T. Fichefet, P. Friedlingstein, X. Gao, W.J. Gutowski, T. Johns, G. Krinner, M. Shongwe, C. Tebaldi, A.J. Weaver and M. Wehner, 2013: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1029–1136, doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324.024.
Figure 2. Temperature increases under different GHG emissions scenarios through 2300 from IPCC AR 5: Figure 12.5 | Time series of global annual mean surface air temperature anomalies (relative to 1986–2005) from CMIP5 concentration-driven experiments. Projections are shown for each RCP for the multi-model mean (solid lines) and the 5 to 95% range (±1.64 standard deviation) across the distribution of individual models (shading). Discontinuities at 2100 are due to different numbers of models performing the extension runs beyond the 21st century and have no physical meaning. Only one ensemble member is used from each model and numbers in the figure indicate the number of different models contributing to the different time periods. No ranges are given for the RCP6.0 projections beyond 2100 as only two models are available.
Aside from RCP-driven scenarios, there is, of course, a broad range of possible increases in temperature (and other climate hazards) even when looking at the 2030-2040 time frame. These plausible differences are not so much policy-driven as science-driven, demonstrating the different possible responses from the Earth’s systems to the existing stock of GHG.

These differences have significant implications for businesses and investors. For example, a model of sea level rise developed in 2018 incorporates accelerated rates of melting and recent advancements in modelling ice-cliff dynamics to capture extreme risk of coastal flooding. The model shows the Atlantic rising by 1.2m (3.9ft) by 2060 on the Florida coastline, which would equate to widespread flooding of coastal properties with potential domino effects on real estate prices across the state (Fig 3). The ‘intermediate’ scenario, however, most often used for planning, predicts only a 55cm (1.8ft) rise in water levels. While reducing GHG emissions does reduce the risk of more extreme sea level rise millennia into the future, year after year, scientists find that the Antarctic is warming faster than anybody predicted, and there is increasing concern that the process of ice sheet melt may be too far advanced to be stopped.

Figure 3. Building-level perspective of inundation in downtown Miami under 1m (3.3ft). Red buildings are those most likely to be impacted and blue areas are inundated. Source: NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

Thus, performing scenario analysis where the key variable is GHG emission reduction targets may not be an accurate representation of the range of possible outcomes for the near future. Rather, looking at high and low warming projections across a large set of models to understand the range of potential outcomes (independent of the underlying RCP scenario) is a better way to understand potential risk. In other words, physical risks over the next 10-20 years are largely independent from policy decisions and emission pathways, and a rapid, orderly, effective transition to a low-carbon economy could still come with massive physical impacts as these processes are already under way, fueled by the past 150 years of GHG emissions.

The Worse News: Tipping Points

Another challenge is that climate scientists are not currently able to model certain possible impacts from climate change, commonly known as “tipping points.” Tipping points is a catch-all term for a wide range of phenomena that may accelerate feedbacks due to climate change, though the timing or probability of their manifestation is currently not well understood. The phenomena are known as tipping points because past a certain threshold, they may not be reversible, even with a dramatic reduction in GHG emissions. Tipping points of most concern to the scientific community are presented in this report from the Environmental Defense Fund.

Figure 4. Melting permafrost is a powerful feedback loop exacerbating climate change. Source: UNEP, Woods Hole Research Center.

Some tipping points catalyze “feedback loops” which can worsen and dramatically accelerate climate change beyond human control. Such is the case, for example, with melting ice sheets, which would not only lead to catastrophic sea level rise, but would also further heat up the planet as the poles’ albedo (reflectivity) is reduced after the ice disappears. Thawing permafrost could lead to massive amounts of methane, a particularly powerful GHG, to be released from the frozen tundra into the atmosphere (in addition to many direct impacts for local communities, infrastructure  and ecosystems in the region) (Fig. 4).

 

Tipping points further reinforce uncertainty about severity and timing of these extreme impacts and the limitations of using RCP scenarios to understand the range of outcomes for physical risk.

Another source of uncertainty for physical climate impacts are knock-on effects, or ‘indirect hazards,’ from the primary expression of global warming (rising temperature and humidity), ranging from biodiversity losses and ecosystem collapses, human health impacts, impacts on crop yields, pests and soil, impacts on human society, increased violence, and rates of war and migration, etc. (Fig 5)

Figure 5. The likely risks to human and natural systems under several global warming scenarios, with dark purple representing high risks of severe impacts with limited reversibility and white indicating no attributable impacts. Source: IPCC, 2018

These indirect or second-order hazards are as relevant as first-order impacts to understand the implications of physical climate change on economic outcomes, but they’re not captured by RCP scenarios and many require stand-alone models that cannot easily be integrated into one clean set of scenarios.

Conclusion

Scenario analysis is often approached from the perspective of transition risk, where policy developments and GHG emission targets are the key drivers of risk pathways over the next 10 to 30 years. Physical risk, however, requires a different approach. Impacts over the coming decades are largely locked-in and are only marginally influenced by GHG emission pathways. In contrast, uncertainty looms large regarding how severe these physical hazards will be, and exploring a range of possible outcomes for physical risk, including looking at tail-risks, provides important insights for risk management and financial analysis.  In summary, the current state of scientific knowledge and the nature of the Earth’s atmospheric systems call for the developments of scenarios that are decoupled from transition/policy scenarios and instead focused on key scientific drivers of uncertainty and risks that may be experienced regardless of policy decisions over the short to medium term (2020-2040).

While efforts to develop easy-to-use tools for physical risk analysis are nascent, organizations can still extract important insights from climate data and leverage estimates of risk exposure across portfolios. Our next blog in this series provides examples of how financial institutions can leverage data on physical risk exposure in equities to inform some early scenario analysis in equity markets.

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Four Twenty Seven’s data products and portfolio analytics support risk reporting and enable investors and businesses to understand their exposure to physical climate risks across asset classes.

Newsletter: How Can Real Estate Investors Cope with Sea Level Rise?

Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments on climate risk and resilience. This month we highlight recent research on sea level rise and feature NPR Marketplace's new podcast series on tech and adaptation.

In Focus: Sea Levels May Rise by 2 Meters

Recent Research Emphasizes the Complexity of Sea Level Rise

There is a statistically significant possibility of sea levels rising by 2m (6.5ft), under a 5˚C increase in temperatures, according to a study released on Monday. The researchers surveyed experts to establish a broader picture of potential sea level rise. While this extreme scenario may not be very likely, the rate of ice melt and its contribution to global sea level is a complicated phenomenon, with increased research leading to growing questions on the interacting feedback loops driving these changes. 

In fact, recent satellite data suggests that warming water is causing East Antarctica to melt more quickly than previously thought and a study released last week found that almost a quarter of West Antarctica's ice is thinning -- its largest glaciers are shrinking five times faster than in 1992.

This growing body of sciences unambiguously calls for better integration of climate data into financial decisions and underscores the need to accelerate adaptation efforts.

Sea Level Rise Has Cascading Economic Impacts

Sea level rise has cascading impacts, damaging physical assets but also reaching far beyond to mortgages, insurance prices and real estate markets. Homes exposed to sea level rise declined in value by about $465 million between 2005 and 2016 in Miami-Dade, FL and in Annapolis, MD "sunny day" flooding already reduces visits to the historic downtown district by 1.7%, costing businesses in the area.
The tangible impacts of sea level rise are already being felt and understanding these impacts enables governments, businesses and investors to manage asset-level and regional risk. Read more on real estate impacts in our new blog post and reach out to find out how our on-demand climate screening application supports real asset investors for due diligence and portfolio risk management.  

Risk and Resilience Along California's Coast

The first study to overlay the impacts of sea level rise, storm surge and erosion along California's coast finds this "dynamic" flooding could affect 600,000 people and $150 billion of property, equivalent to over 6% of the the state's GDP by 2100. The new San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas proposes a science-based framework for identifying adaptation strategies. It focuses on nature-based solutions along the San Francisco Bay and was created by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and SPUR, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association.
How We Survive - NPR Podcast
How does technology help us understand climate impacts and how can innovation in tech help drive adaptation? NPR Marketplace Tech's new podcast series, "How We Survive," features speakers leveraging technology for adaptation across sectors. The podcast includes a conversation with NASA's Annmarie Eldering, who shares the agency's new CO2 monitoring system attached to the International Space Station, that's "watching the planet breathe." Jay Koh of private equity firm, the Lightsmith Group, discusses the importance of adaptation finance, and Four Twenty Seven Founder and CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, highlights the value of integrating climate data into businesses' and investors' strategies.
Upcoming Events on Climate Risk in Asia

Ceres Webinar: Are Asia's Pension Funds Ready for Climate Change?

In this webinar, speakers from the Asian Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), China Water Risk, and Manulife Investment Management will share key findings from their recent report - Are Asia’s Pension Funds ready for Climate Change? Discussions will explore pension fund exposure to water and climate risks in Asia, including the economic impacts and trade flow and supply chain disruptions in the region. Register Here.
May 28, 2019 6pm PST / 9pm EST; May 29, 2019 9am HKT / 11am AEST
 

Institute of International Finance (IIF) Sustainable Finance Workshop

The IIF is hosting a sustainable finance workshop on disclosure, data and scenario analysis. The event will focus on leading practice in climate risk disclosure, including developments in TCFD and the IIF report on leading practices. Speakers include Satoshi Ikeda, Chief Sustainable Finance Officer, Japan FSA and Representative to the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS); and Keiko Honda, EVP and CEO, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank. To RSVP contact Raymond Aycock (raycock@iif.com or +1 202-857-3652). 
Wed. June 5th from 2:00-5:00pm, Tokyo. 
Upcoming Events

Join the Four Twenty Seven team at these events:

  • May 23EU / UC Berkeley Law - Climate Risk and Sustainable Finance in the EU and California, Berkeley, CA: Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, joins an event featuring Mario Nava from the European Commission DG Finance, Betty Yee, California State Controller, and Dave Jones, Insurance Commissioner Emeritus, to discuss the future of sustainable finance. Emilie will join a panel to discuss trends in TCFD reporting and the way forward for the United States in climate risk disclosures. 
  • May 30 – Workshop on the California Heat Assessment Tool, Sacramento, CA: Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg, and Editor, Natalie Ambrosio, will lead a workshop on the California Heat Assessment Tool for SafeCAT members. 
  • June 4 - 7 – Innovate4Climate, Singapore: Director of Advisory Services, Yoon Kim, will present on climate risk and resilient infrastructure in this event hosted by Temasek. 
  • June 6 - 8 – AIA Conference on Architecture 2019, Las Vegas, NV: Strategic Advisor, Josh Sawislak, will present on climate risk and real estate.
  • June 10 - 12 – US SIF Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN: Senior Analyst, Lindsay Ross will attend.
  • June 11 - 12 – RI Europe, London, UK: Hear Emilie Mazzacurati present on scenario analysis for physical climate risk and meet with Director, Europe, Nathalie Borgeaud, at Four Twenty Seven's booth.
  • June 12 - 14 – Emergency Preparedness Training Workshop, Sacramento, CA: Nik Steinberg will present on the California Heat Assessment Tool.
  • June 19  – Columbia University and PRI Private Round Table, New York, NY: Emilie Mazzacurati will discuss scenario analysis for physical climate risk at this workshop.
  • June 19 - 21 – Columbia University - At What Point Managed Retreat? New York, NY: Lindsay Ross will attend.  
  • July 4 – Finance for Adaptation Solutions and Technologies Roundtable, London, UK: Emilie Mazzacurati will present on private sector solutions for climate resilience investments during London Climate Week.
  • July 4 Young Professionals Conference 2019, Lisbon, Portugal: Nathalie Borgeaud will present on climate risk in real estate.
  • July 17 - 19 – Oxford Climate Related Financial Risk Course, Oxford, UK: Nathalie Borgeaud will teach a session on measuring climate risk.
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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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Anticipating Sea Level Rise Impacts on Real Estate Investments

What does the future hold?

New research on sea level rise emphasizes the potential for dire changes over the course of the century. Recent satellite data suggests that warming water is causing East Antarctica to melt more quickly than previously thought and a study released in early May found that almost a quarter of West Antarctica’s ice is thinning, with its largest glaciers shrinking five times faster than in 1992. A study based on expert opinion found that there is the possibility of sea levels rising by 2 meters (6.5ft) under an extreme scenario of  5˚C global temperature increase. This would mean an area of land as big as Libya would be lost, and up to 2.5% of the population globally could be displaced.

The cascading direct and indirect impacts of sea level rise affect all facets of the regional economy. Source: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Extreme scenarios of sea level rise will have severe impacts on our cities and economies. Sea level rise is happening today to a lesser extent; however it is already having tangible impacts on real estate values. This means increasing costs for property owners and tenants, but it also has far-reaching market impacts on access to and cost of insurance, fluctuations in market values and potential increase in local taxes to fund adaptation efforts.

Of all U.S. states, Florida is expected to experience the greatest consequences of sea level rise. Between 1960 and 2015, sea levels along the Florida coast rose by 10-15 cm (4-6 in), and the range of projections vary wide looking a few decades out, with projections ranging from  33 to 122cm  (13-48 in) by 2060.

Widespread flooding risk in Florida

65,000 homes in Florida worth $35 billion are expected to be underwater or impacted daily by high tides in 2040. From soaring insurance premiums and increasing risk of disclosure to declining property value and diminishing tax revenue, sea level rise is already challenging property owners, investors and banks. Among other impacts, the value of single-family homes in Miami-Dade County that are exposed to sea level rise declined by about $465 million between 2005 and 2016.

Furthermore, climate change is predicted to increase the number of strong hurricanes in the region. These stronger storms will combine with sea level rise to exacerbate the impacts of extreme floods. Storm surge flooding damages buildings and landscaping,  destroys merchandise,  and can also have wide-reaching economic impacts due to damaged power and transportation infrastructure.

Downtown Jacksonville, FL flooded during Hurricane Irma. Source: iStock.

Last but not least, tidal flooding, also called “nuisance” or “sunny day” flooding increased from 1.3 to 3 days per year in the Southeast from 2000-2015. By the end of the century tidal flooding could happen daily.  Even with no rainfall, these floods have significant impacts – halting traffic, overburdening drainage systems and damaging infrastructure.

Investors and businesses have a responsibility to understand these risks: using best available science to measure exposure to sea level rise and other flood risks, getting informed on adaptation efforts by local governments, and engaging with local industry associations or other groups to promote further investments in resilience.

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Four Twenty Seven works with investors to provide portfolio hotpot screenings and real time due diligence with site-specific data on sea level rise and other climate risks. Contact us for more detailed analysis and site-specific data on sea level rise exposure and detailed analysis of local jurisdictions’ response.

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.
 

Our mailing address is:
Four Twenty Seven
2000 Hearst Ave
Ste 304
Berkeley, CA 94709

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