We at Four Twenty Seven are saddened and angered by the recent killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery along with so many others, and by the systemic injustice and continued brutality Black individuals experience every day. We stand in solidarity with the Black community against all forms of racial injustice and we state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.
During this time of national reckoning, we are reflecting on our responsibility to use our platform to speak out against injustice and elevate the voices of Black people, other People of Color, and those who have dedicated themselves to racial justice.
While the issues we are facing today are not new, they have reached a boiling point, due to centuries of injustice, mistreatment and violence against Black individuals. This is a systemic problem, deeply rooted in our society, that calls for systemic change. We are committed to being a part of the change.
Together with Moody’s, our parent company, we believe “we all have a responsibility to do better and to build a more just society that serves everyone equally.”
As a company whose mission is to catalyze climate adaptation and resilience, we are committed to supporting equity and racial justice in our daily work. Black communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation. They are on the frontlines of the impacts of pollution, extreme heat, storms, and disease. They have less means to mitigate detrimental climate and environmental effects, and often lack insurance and other means to recover when disaster strikes. Any investment in systemic resilience must be an investment in equitable adaptation.
As part of our commitment to change and owing to our expertise on environmental and climate-related issues, we commit to taking the following steps:
As an organization and an employer, we also commit to fostering dialogue on racial justice among our team members and will strive to enhance the diversity of our team.
James Baldwin’s words ring true today more than ever: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We stand in solidarity with the Black community and are committed to doing our part to change the system and fight racism and injustice in our country.
June 2, 2020 – BERKELEY, CA – Four Twenty Seven’s data on climate-related risks is now available on Measurabl’s real estate data platform.
Measurabl is the world’s most widely adopted ESG software for commercial real estate, and Four Twenty Seven’s physical risk data is now available in a new Physical Climate Risk Exposure tool on Measurabl’s investment grade ESG (environmental, social, governance) data hub. Through this integration Measurabl customers can now identify their physical climate risks to inform opportunities to build resilience across their real estate portfolios.
As the effects of climate change worsen, real estate companies are feeling tangible impacts. Properties exposed to rising sea levels rise in the United States sell at about 7% less compared with similar, unexposed properties. Severe climate events such as hurricanes are occurring more frequently and costing billions of dollars in damage to assets. Additionally, companies face growing regulatory and investor pressures to disclose climate-related financial risks in line with frameworks like the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).
Yet today, real estate owners and lenders lack transparency into the forward-looking impacts of climate-related threats on their assets and find it difficult to collect and analyze physical climate risk data in a meaningful, comprehensive way.
For each building in a portfolio, Measurabl’s Physical Climate Risk Exposure tool provides Four Twenty Seven’s data for the five key climate hazards of floods, heat stress, hurricanes & typhoons, sea level rise and water stress, as well as earthquakes. The tool identifies the level of risk an asset faces for each hazard and allows users to sort, filter and export Four Twenty Seven’s physical risk data by property type, risk category, and risk level. Users can access this data from Measurabl’s centralized software alongside relevant ESG performance metrics and analytics. This new release improves transparency and enables lenders and investors to better assess and manage their risk.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the leading ESG data management platform to provide unprecedented levels of transparency to real estate owners and managers worldwide,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Four Twenty Seven. “As climate change increasingly causes financial damage to real assets, this partnership helps fill the urgent demand for data to help the real estate industry prepare for the impacts of climate change.”
Physical climate risk data analyzed in tandem with ESG performance provides real estate and capital markets new opportunities to assess their risks and build more resilient portfolios in a central hub. Through advanced understanding of these risks, the built environment and capital markets will be empowered to make data-driven decisions on risk mitigation and strategic investments.
“The evolution of Measurabl’s software to include climate risk data was a natural development as we continue to build the best-in-class ESG –and now “R” – platform for commercial real estate,” said Matt Ellis, Founder and CEO of Measurabl. “The union of physical climate risks with ESG creates unparalleled transparency for climate-related financial decisions and disclosures.”
Introduction: Why Climate Risk Matters for Asset Owners
In the world where quarterly corporate reporting makes it feel like financial markets are ruled by short-termism, asset owners stand out in contrast, managing their portfolios with horizons in the decades and even longer. With trillions in assets under management and the long-term well-being of their beneficiaries and other stakeholders as their goal, asset owners’ risk management practices must be robust. This includes the consideration of factors beyond traditional financial metrics. While their long horizon allows asset owners to withstand short-term volatility, their portfolios may be exposed to higher levels of other risks, including those posed by a changing climate, which is not necessarily accounted for in asset prices.
Additionally, regulatory actions like the EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, growing global support of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and groups like the Network for Greening the Financial System, whose members include 42 central banks and supervisors, are pushing investors of all stripes to take physical climate risks into account, warning of dire systemic consequences if climate risks continue to go unpriced.
With climate risk moving from the fringes of finance to center stage, the challenge is to translate climate models and climate data into actionable intelligence for financial decision-making. Climate models are complex, incorporating information from many disciplines of earth science, and their outputs are unwieldy. However, when transformed into indicators at appropriate scales and timeframes, climate data provides essential forward-looking information for financial decision-makers.
Assessing Exposure to Inform Risk Management
Evaluating an asset’s exposure to physical climate hazards is challenging, yet also an essential first step in managing climate risks. Four Twenty Seven’s Physical Climate Risk Application (Application) allows investors to assess exposure to floods, sea level rise, hurricanes & typhoons, heat stress and water stress at the asset and portfolio levels. Asset owners leverage hazard exposure scores to identify regional and sectoral trends as well as specific hotspots. Flexible viewing options and digestible data provide insight for portfolio risk assessments and due diligence processes. Armed with climate risk data at decision-relevant scales, asset owners can begin to manage their risk.
Climate Data for Portfolio Management
Real estate, infrastructure, agriculture, timber and other real assets have long been an integral component of an asset owner’s portfolio due to their returns and the diversification they offer to the overall fund. However, many real assets are highly vulnerable to physical climate risks. These risks manifest in direct and indirect ways, including increased costs, reduced revenues, and decreased asset value.
Asset owners use Four Twenty Seven’s Application to evaluate forward-looking physical climate risk exposure. For example, the portfolio-specific summary table in Figure 1 provides a snapshot of exposure and serves as the starting point for the analysis of physical climate risks. In this portfolio, hurricanes & typhoons, earthquakes, heat stress and water stress are the most prevalent hazards.
While asset owners frequently emphasize the hazards they view as most financially material—for instance floods, hurricanes, and sea level rise—heat stress and water stress can also have material financial impacts. For instance, a major heat wave across Europe in the summer of 2019 demonstrated how increasing temperatures can cause business disruptions and raise operating costs. Absent retrofits to address climate risks in European real estate, the total increase in energy bills for commercial buildings could potentially cost $300 billion (£457 billion) by 2050. Water stress, another potentially overlooked risk, can threaten the long-term operations of assets like thermal power plants that rely on large amounts of water for cooling. For example, Moody’s found that 11 major U.S. utilities representing over $31 billion in rate base have extreme risk to water stress, which has already caused some power utilities to retire capital-intensive generation facilities early.
In addition to providing an entry point for further analysis, metrics in the summary table are useful for risk reporting. As reporting requirements develop, outputs from the Physical Climate Risk Application will empower asset owners to effectively describe asset exposure, communicate how risks are being managed, and characterize their portfolios’ overall climate risk and resilience strategies.
Asset owners can also identify exposure hotspots, explore sectoral trends, and dive deeper into the exposure of individual assets. Figure 2 shows the same portfolio ranked by highest flood risk score. Floods can raise costs, cause business disruption, and decrease asset values.
Using the data in Figure 2, asset owners can consider shortening their holding periods for assets with the highest levels of exposure, ensure that they have appropriate insurance coverage, and evaluate if coverage or premium prices may rise in the future. As the climate changes, insurers’ risk tolerances may also reach their limits and they may seek to exit markets. It is thus essential for asset owners to monitor the evolving landscape. Beyond evaluating potential changes to insurance, asset owners can also use this data as an entry point for engagement with a building manager, to better understand the site’s flood history and investigate if the asset has flood defenses.
Institutional investors understand that, over the typical commercial real estate hold period of seven to ten years, the next buyer of their building is likely to be concerned by climate risk as well. The Application equips asset owners with the exposure data they need to make sure their portfolios are resilient to climate risks and continue to provide the returns they need and expect from the asset class.
Climate Data for Due Diligence
Beyond analyzing portfolios of existing holdings, the application’s real-time scoring allows asset owners to quickly incorporate physical climate analysis into their due diligence processes for new acquisitions. In addition to providing easily digestible, high-level screening results, granular climate data allows clients to continue to invest, for example, in valuable coastal markets with known exposure. Figure 3 shows exposure of nine facilities in Tokyo, where the combination of storm surge and sea level rise could cause $1 trillion (100 trillion yen) in damages in a 1-in-100 year storm. Because the sea level rise (and flood) data featured in the Application is at a scale of 90 x 90 meters, investors do not need to eliminate entire markets from their investment strategies. Rather than exiting a profitable market, asset owners can use the Four Twenty Seven Physical Climate Risk Application to selectively invest in assets with lower exposure.
Asset owners often use Four Twenty Seven data to set their own internal thresholds for further due diligence. Using the detailed site information, as shown in Figure 4, as well as the downloadable scorecard, analysts can quickly understand which hazards to investigate further.
Some investors require further due diligence for any assets that receive “High” or “Red Flag” scores. Deal teams may be tasked to investigate asset-specific features that would make it more resilient to specific climate hazards, such as freeboard above base flood elevation, onsite power generators, or water efficiency measures.
Real assets, whose time horizon of returns aligns well with the investment goals of asset owners, are exposed to physical hazards, which will continue to become more frequent and severe. Exploring asset-level climate hazard exposure is the first step to analyzing and ultimately managing physical climate risk. As regulation around climate risk rapidly evolves, mandates to monitor and report these risks will also expand. Equipped with a detailed understanding of their portfolio holdings’ exposure, asset owners are empowered to make better-informed investment and risk management decisions, ultimately enhancing the resilience of their portfolios to physical climate risk.
Four Twenty Seven offers on-demand physical climate risk scoring for real assets and other climate risk datasets for investors to assess their risk across asset classes. Learn more about Four Twenty Seven’s data or reach out to schedule a demo.
This Institute of International Finance webinar (IIF) features a discussion on quantifying the impacts of climate change into balance sheets and cash flows and provides an overview of Moody’s growing climate risk offering. This webinar is part of the IIF ESG Webinar series.
April 22, 2020 – Four Twenty Seven Analysis. The devastating human health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbated by climate hazards, which threaten communities around the world. This analysis explores exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires in U.S. municipalities alongside the impacts of COVID-19 on the same regions. It discusses the compounding challenges for economies, infrastructure and human health and the importance of preparing for these overlapping disasters.
Introduction: Climate Preparedness Takes on New Meaning
Last week in the Southern U.S., residents and policy-makers weighed the risks of high winds and flooding alongside the risks of spreading COVID-19, as many evacuated to storm shelters, and 750,000 people lost power across ten states from Texas to West Virginia. Meanwhile that same week 50,000 people in Connecticut lose power because of a storm, with restoration efforts complicated by COVID-19 precautions. The threat of climate-driven extreme weather events takes on new meaning when standard responses such as evacuating to shelters conflict with guidelines for preventing the spread of the disease. The pandemic’s impacts have been compared to Hurricane Katrina hitting all 50 states. FEMA, which is leading the nation’s response, typically only battles disasters in a few states at once.
To ensure the safety of residents, many are typically urged to evacuate ahead of hurricanes and wildfires. However, crowded evacuation centers are prime conditions for diseases to spread. Authorities in several states are actively exploring the best responses to this challenge, considering options for increasing the capacity of evacuation centers, taking temperatures before admitting evacuees and booking blocks of hotel rooms as a last resort.
Hazards such as heat waves and wildfires pose human health risks that will contribute to already overwhelmed healthcare systems. Further, many communities rely on cooling centers and visit public spaces such as shopping malls to seek relief during summer months. Measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include the closure of facilities such as libraries and malls that typically serve as cooling centers. During a time when residents are encouraged to stay in or near their own homes, a heat wave would pose new danger. However, measures to improve preparedness, such as ensuring that hospitals have back-up power generators, improving availability of virtual healthcare and seeking alternative sources of personal protective equipment, will help communities prepare for the impacts of climate hazards as well as the pandemic.
The economic consequences of the pandemic also exacerbate the challenges presented by climate hazards for cities and residents. For those individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19-related closures, decreased income may make it difficult to acquire needed emergency supplies or pay to relocate to a safe haven. Local governments already reaching deep into their coffers and straining existing resources, may have trouble allocating emergency personnel and resources to evacuate residents and to rebuild after a disaster.
This analysis explores the regions of the U.S. that are particularly exposed to the climate hazards of floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires and how this exposure may exacerbate existing challenges due to COVID-19.
Extreme Rainfall and Flooding
Devastating flooding last year disrupted lives, threatened livelihoods and contributed to 19 million acres of cropland going unplanted. Seventy percent of those acres were in the Midwest, which was sodden for months. Communities are bracing for new floods this year which are expected to be severe, though not as devastating as last year’s floods. Counties in the Midwest are among the most exposed to increasing extreme precipitation due to climate change in the next several decades (Figure 1), where these floods are likely to become a regular occurrence.
This year, inundation would exacerbate the existing challenges of containing COVID-19, while COVID-19 containment precautions would, in turn, make flood response more challenging. Midwestern states such as Michigan, Illinois and Indiana are among states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases relative to their populations. While less densely populated communities have fewer cases to date, many Midwestern counties such as Cook County in Illinois and Franklin and Hamilton Counties, in Ohio already have a significant number of COVID-19 cases. Likewise, smaller towns typically have fewer financial resources and fewer staff dedicated to emergency relief.
The economies of many Midwestern communities depend upon agricultural and manufacturing industries, which require manual labor and the physical presence of the employees. Some manufacturing facilities reopened to produce personal protective equipment, and farms and grocery stores are both considered essential. However, these industries are at heightened risk of disruption from employees falling ill, as seen at several meatpacking facilities across the country. Floods can exacerbate these challenges, inundating roadways, manufacturing facilities, farms, and even grocery stores, preventing healthy staff from getting to and from their place of employment and disrupting the movement of goods. These impacts can also threaten food security if they disrupt food supply chains.
NOAA predicts above-average temperatures for much of the country through July, with no regions expecting below-average temperatures. Exposure to extreme heat is concentrated in Missouri and western Illinois, fanning out across the Midwest and South and including several areas that have had high numbers of COVID-19 cases to date (Figure 2). For example, the metropolitan areas surrounding Chicago and Detroit have both been hard hit by COVID-19 and face moderate exposure to heat stress. The Southeast corner of Florida faces high numbers of COVID-19 impacts as well as high heat stress and a looming hurricane season.
It is currently unclear how warmer temperatures will affect the spread of the virus. However, heat waves hinder worker productivity and can lead to safety concerns for outdoor workers, such as farmers. In addition to their human health impacts, heat waves also lead to higher peak energy demand as use of air conditioning surges. If governments and businesses alike continue to require or encourage their employees to work from home, reliance on air conditioning and power will likely be higher this year than in typical summer months. Resulting power outages can disrupt business continuity, particularly with operations dispersed across employees’ homes.
Climate change is contributing to more frequent intense hurricanes and more severe storms are expected this season compared to the average season. States along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean are highly exposed to hurricanes (Figure 3), and several of these states, such as Louisiana and Florida, also have among the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases to date.
Local governments that depend upon sales tax are likely to feel the most immediate fiscal impacts from COVID-19, while those that rely more on property tax may feel longer term impacts influenced by foreclosures. In Florida, sales tax was responsible for 77% of the state’s general revenue in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which suggests that it will face the fiscal impacts of COVID-19 over the next several months, corresponding with the hurricane season, when funds may be most needed. Other states, such as Louisiana, have extended their tax filing date indefinitely, which will delay tax income. Regions that depend on tourism, such as the Florida Keys, will be going into hurricane season with fewer fiscal resources than usual this year. A lack of fiscal resources will challenge preparedness efforts and emergency response to hurricanes.
As climate change contributes to more severe droughts and extreme heat events, wildfire season in the western U.S. has worsened over the past several years. California, Washington and Colorado are among those states most exposed to wildfires, and they are also among those states with the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases to date.
While the spring is usually spent preparing for wildfire season, these preparations have been hindered this year. Annual efforts to remove brush have been postponed, while hiring has been delayed and annual trainings have been canceled. Fire agencies are going into this year’s season understaffed, with many firefighters already sick or quarantined. They are also wary of the dangerous conditions of base camps, where firefighters sleep in close quarters on the front lines.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 on employment and incomes will exacerbate the losses caused by wildfires and will likely lead to higher numbers of residents facing tough questions around whether or not to leave an area if they lose their homes. The resulting emigration or delayed rebuilding will in turn reduce local government revenues.
Residents in fire-prone areas increasingly wear N95 masks to protect themselves from wildfire smoke. However, these masks are in short supply and authorities have directed that masks should be saved for medical personnel. If shortages persist into this year’s wildfire season, communities could face greater long-term respiratory health impacts due to wildfire smoke.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and its timeline remains unknown, each region of the country faces exposure to climate hazards which will complicate containment efforts. However, in a time when local jurisdictions and individuals are paying increased attention to disaster preparedness there is an opportunity to strategically prepare for climate hazards and invest in resilience that supports responses to any disaster. Hurricanes, wildfires, floods and heat waves are inevitable in our changing world, and the more proactive resilience-building that occurs, the better positioned communities will be to minimize the loss of lives and livelihoods.
March 26, 2020 – Four Twenty Seven Analysis. We leverage our global database of manufacturing sites to identify industrial plants that may be able to contribute to the production of personal protective equipment and medical equipment to address the global public health crisis. The data is available free of charge to state and national governments seeking to engage with manufacturers in their jurisdictions.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, states and countries experience shortages of essential first response equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer, ventilators and hospital beds. A few manufacturers in the perfume, automobiles and electronics sectors have responded by repurposing their facilities to produce equipment that will help deal with the public health crisis.
These companies demonstrate the potential for more widespread public-private partnerships during this global crisis. To support these efforts and encourage public-private partnerships, we leveraged our global database of corporate facilities to identify the companies that have facilities that may be repurposed to contribute to this effort.
Based on news coverage of companies that have announced efforts to repurpose their manufacturing facilities to support COVID-19 response efforts, we identified facilities within SIC industries that may be able to contribute. The table below provides the list of sectors included in our analysis. Note that many factors influence whether or not a specific facility can be repurposed, so this data is intended as an entry point for a dialogue and engagement with industry.
Starting with a database of about a million corporate facilities owned by large, publicly-traded companies, we identified 11,322 facilities globally in sectors of interest. 2,755 of these are in the United States. Below we provide examples of industries in the four states with the largest number of facilities based on this analysis, which are also among the states with the most diagnosed COVID-19 cases to date.
As of March 26, New York has the most diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. We found 149 manufacturing facilities in the state with the potential to be repurposed to support response efforts. Household and personal products make up 48 of these facilities and include 20 manufacturing facilities owned by Estée Lauder and 10 owned by L’Oréal. On Monday Estée Lauder announced that it would reopen one if its facilities in New York to produce hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, cosmetic company LVMH transformed three of its French perfume factories into hand sanitizer producers, supplying health authorities and hospitals in France. L’Oréal Group has also joined other cosmetics companies in Europe to use its manufacturing facilities to produce hydroalcoholic gel and hand sanitizer. This suggests that cosmetic companies in the United States may also be able to repurpose their facilities.
There are 57 manufacturing facilities owned by pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences companies in New York State, including 16 owned by Pfizer. In addition to having the necessary machinery and supplies, companies also need to address regulatory constraints around manufacturing different types of medical equipment. However, there are opportunities for businesses and governments to work together to identify appropriate exceptions to allow companies to support the urgent public health demands. For example, pharmaceutical company Roche recently got emergency approval to distribute high-speed coronavirus tests.
New Jersey and California have the second and third largest number of residents diagnosed with the virus and they each have 228 manufacturing facilities with the potential to be repurposed for COVID-19 response efforts based on their industries. Similar to New York, there are 160 facilities owned by pharmaceuticals, biotechnology & life sciences companies in New Jersey, with Pfizer, Merck and Johnson and Johnson representing the largest number. Likewise, there are 27 facilities owned by household and personal products companies, 10 of which belong to L’Oréal. New Jersey also has 21 chemical manufacturing facilities, which could potentially use their equipment to produce hand sanitizer or test kits depending on their equipment and resources.
California facilities that may be able to contribute include 29 owned by automobile and component companies. Those with more than one applicable facility include Autoliv Inc, Aptiv PLC, Ford, Tesla, Toyota and Honda. General Motors and Tesla have already begun producing ventilators, while Ford has said that it’s considering the possibility. The FDA has waived some approval regulations typically required of new ventilator manufacturers, which helps open the door for companies to step up. We also identified 18 facilities owned by textile and apparel manufacturers in California, such Adidas, Nike and VF Corporation that could potentially use their equipment to produce masks.
While medical-grade masks are made from specialized fabric that many fabric companies don’t usually have access to, there is already a collaborative effort between yarn spinner Parkdale Mills, Inc and textile companies such as Fruit of the Loom and Hanes brand to create a manufacturing supply chain for masks. This indicates the potential for other clothing companies to contribute to the efforts by producing masks or hospital gowns. There are also 137 manufacturing facilities owned by healthcare companies in California, which can potentially transition their production to materials directly relevant to the COVID-19 crisis. For example, Allergan and Pfizer both have 13 facilities across the state. Roche, discussed above, also has nine facilities in the state.
Michigan, the state with the fourth most COVID-19 cases as of March 26, has the largest number of manufacturing facilities owned by companies that may be able to produce response equipment. Out of 262 applicable facilities, the state has 181 owned by automobile and component companies, with 27 owned by Aptiv PLC, 26 owned by General Motors, and 24 owned by Magna International Equipment. The transformation of several other car manufacturing facilities into ventilator production centers shows the potential for these facilities to be repurposed.
As states and countries strive to identify the most efficient responses to an unprecedented global public health crisis, there is an opportunity to leverage existing capabilities. Understanding which companies may have tools that can help support response efforts can help inform conversations around addressing this crisis.
Four Twenty Seven is making the underlying data available free of charge to state governments, please send requests to Natalie Ambrosio, Director of Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org) if of interest.
This analysis was written with support from Lindsay Ross.
March 18, 2020 – 427 ANALYSIS. The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a global public health emergency and catalyzed an economic recession. The crisis also has important implications for climate action and resilience-building. This analysis highlights several of these interacting factors.
The unprecedented global public health crisis from COVID-19 has led to a deteriorating global economic outlook, but also presents a range of implications for climate change. While COVID-19’s immediate impacts include emissions reductions, the longer-term impacts on climate action and resilience-building are more complex. Likewise, COVID-19 may provide insight into how prepared communities are for the increasing frequency of disasters and how financial institutions can prepare for sudden disruptions. This article will explore several of these impacts, outlining topics to watch as we strive to understand the long-term implications and ensure the safety of communities and businesses.
COVID-19 and Emissions
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has led some of the world’s largest economies to grind to a halt as social distancing measures prohibit non-essential business. The resulting emissions reductions provide a small silver lining to this unprecedented global crisis. In mid-February China’s emissions were 25% lower than a few weeks prior and Italy’s nitrogen dioxide emissions have dropped significantly. However, these may be short-term victories for the planet.
There is much more uncertainty on long term effects. On the one hand, this period of disruption will likely be followed by economic stimulus efforts, providing credits to industries with large emissions, such as steel, cement, and airlines, driving a rapid rebound in emissions. On the other hand, experts note that there is potential for the outbreak to shift travel patterns for the long-term, leading to more telecommuting as companies get acclimated to remote work. There is potential for permanently behavior changes that would have long term impact on oil demand and emissions. Whether or not governments focus on promoting a rebound in traditional energy or use this as an opportunity to catalyze a systemic shift to reduce emissions could be a key determinant in the impact on long-term greenhouse gas emissions.
Setbacks to Climate Action
It is evident that in the short-term ambitious climate policies are not a priority, as the attention of citizens and legislators turns to safeguarding communities and economies from the multifaceted impacts of COVID-19. Numerous climate-related events have been canceled, and in-person negotiations planned ahead of COP-26 have been delayed through at least April. The U.K. changed its generous environmental budget allocations and Spain stopped all legislative activity, with implications for climate action. While the European Union has announced a continued commitment to its Green Deal, meant to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050, the news has gotten limited attention due to the circumstances.
As increasingly severe travel and gathering restrictions begin to have rippling impacts, ongoing climate research is disrupted, including arctic research expeditions and several NASA projects. These studies include research on the ocean-atmosphere heat exchange, seasonal hydrology in the Mississippi River, and thunderstorms across the U.S. While NASA does not expect the delays to be detrimental to the projects, delays may range from several months to over a year. This may challenge efforts to ensure that the most current science underpins resilience-building efforts and climate progress.
Lessons Learned in Preparedness
A global pandemic is a well-rehearsed scenario in risk management, and institutions that had prepared and thought through implications of such an occurrence are faring better than those with less preemptive planning. For example, last October banks in Hong Kong underwent a stress test that simulated a pandemic, cyberattack and telecom breakdown happening concurrently. Now facing an actual pandemic, some banks are grateful for additional preparedness measures they had implemented due to the stress test. The COVID-19 crisis may in turn lead banks, other businesses and governments to identify opportunities for additional preparedness measures for future risk.
As communities around the world face various levels of restrictions and concern for large gatherings grow, supply chains are threatened and manufacturing grinds to a halt, vulnerability to climate impacts increases. If a devastating storm or wildfire forced residents from their homes into crowded evacuation centers, the typical damage, loss and public health costs would compound upon the danger and challenges already being faced due to COVID-19. Likewise, the costs of recovery from a climate disaster would be dire on top of the increasing economic uncertainty.
Similarly, as companies face the impacts of the pandemic, including adapting to remote work if possible, an extreme weather event would complicate their efforts. While office buildings and key facilities may be prepared with generators in case of power outages and water proofing for floods, business’ operations are now particularly dependent on public power and communication infrastructure, as well as the resilience of each employee’s home. In addition to the disruption if employees are ill, many businesses are more vulnerable to disruptions from climate hazards during this time, which in turn increases macroeconomic vulnerability. Of course, the pandemic itself has many multifaceted economic and business impacts.
Conclusion: Underscoring the Need for Resilience
COVID-19 has understandably pushed climate action to the back burner as the public health crisis unfolds and fears of a long-term economic recession are pressing. However, the ways policy-makers, business and individuals respond to today’s public health emergency and the resulting successes and failures may provide lessons for responding to other multifaceted disasters, applicable to extreme weather events and natural disasters. Likewise, the COVID-19 crisis may reinforce the value of preparedness for businesses and communities and help highlight opportunities to invest in adaptation and resilience.
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.”