Racial Justice and Climate Change: Exposure

Introduction

The relationship between race and climate change is too often ignored. The recent protests for racial justice and police reform call attention to the fact that racism is still deeply embedded in our institutions and public policies. In the United States, people of color are disproportionately affected by polluting industries and climate change. A long legacy of racist housing policy and weak environmental protections contribute to this disproportionate exposure, coupled with systemic issues related to public health, education and wealth.

As part of our commitment to help raise awareness of the nexus between racial equity and climate change, this article will provide a brief overview of environmental injustice issues in the U.S., as well as highlight the disproportionate impacts of climate change on Black communities and people of color.

Disclaimer: We are aware that the history of environmental justice in the U.S. is deep and complex, and this short piece cannot do justice to the complex web of issues and suffering imposed on minorities. We hope this blog post provides an entry point for identifying organizations and researchers with greater expertise and a long history of commitment to environmental justice.

Housing Discrimination and Environmental Injustice  

The disenfranchisement of Black communities and other people of color in the United States includes discrimination in terms of access to education, public transportation, recreation, employment, healthcare and housing. Environmental racism is just one manifestation of this oppression and is particularly evident in housing and development.

Black communities and other people of color have been relegated to neighborhoods that have greater exposure to environmental pollution and toxicity than primarily white neighborhoods. Housing and lending policies have historically limited options for Black communities and people of color and concentrated these communities in locations with higher exposure to environmental hazards. In the 1930s, federal housing policy actively and intentionally contributed to segregation, subsidizing development for middle to low-income white households and prohibiting people of color from purchasing those homes. Relegated to live only in certain areas, entire minority communities were then “redlined,” labeling home buyers’ mortgages as too risky to insure. “Threat of infiltration of negro[s]” and “Infiltration of: Negroes” were often listed as reasons for giving a community a low grade, and for deeming the community as “hazardous.”

In America, where homeownership is the single most important source of equity- and wealth-building, Black households have historically been shut out of higher-value neighborhoods and have been systematically prevented from benefiting from the upward mobility and financial resources that accompany homeownership. Factors like redlining, disenfranchisement and the operation of toxic facilities in Black neighborhoods means that homes in majority Black neighborhoods are valued at half the price of homes with non-Black residents. Lack of opportunity to build equity through home ownership is a key reason that African American wealth equals just 5% of white wealth in the U.S.

Furthermore, as of 2019 over 30 million Americans live in areas where water infrastructure has violated safety standards. For example, in rural and primarily Black Lowndes County, Alabama, only around 20% of the population has a sewer system—the others have pipes deploying raw sewage into their yards. Navajo Nation residents rely on water contaminated by uranium mining, and infections and cancer are rampant in these communities. Lack of access to safe water leads some residents to drive for hours to obtain safe water, which in turn hampers education and work efforts, further perpetuating inequities. There is a nationwide trend in lack of enforcement and regulation around safety standards for drinking water, and often low-income, Black, Indigenous and other people of color who lack political clout endure the most severe impacts. In 2017 the American Society of Civil Engineers rated the U.S. drinking-water infrastructure as a D, estimating a need for $1 trillion investment in the next 25 years to prevent further erosion of pipes.

After decades of discriminatory housing policies and inequitable development, Black communities are still disproportionately exposed to pollution and environmental toxins, leading to detrimental health impacts which are often compounded by lack of access to suitable healthcare. This disproportionate exposure has been well-documented since the 1980s when a nationwide study by The United Church of Christ Commission on Racial Justice found that race was the strongest determinant of the location of commercial hazardous waste sites. Nationally, “African Americans are 75 percent more likely than Caucasians to live in fence-line communities—those next to commercial facilities whose noise, odor, traffic or emissions directly affect the population.”

Disproportionate Exposure to Climate Impacts and Climate Justice

While climate justice has multiple dimensions, at its core it refers to the understanding that those who are least responsible for climate change suffer its gravest consequences. Globally this manifests in developing countries experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, while their industrialized counterparts bear the responsibility for the carbon emissions responsible for worldwide climate impacts. From an intergenerational perspective, today’s younger generations are inheriting the consequences of older generations’ actions related to climate change, with Greta Thunberg a vocal advocate for generational justice.

Climate justice also manifests through racial inequity, in particular in the U.S., where the impacts of climate change will not be distributed evenly. While Black communities and other people of color bear the greatest health costs of industrial activity and of physical climate hazards, they also bear less responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions causing the climate crisis. While individuals within these communities can be highly resilient, confronting social and economic disparities daily, these communities also often lack the resources to adequately prepare for and respond to the health impacts of pollution and physical impacts of climate change.

Floods

Flooding in the United States disproportionately affects Black residents, as Black neighborhoods are often in low-lying floodplains, with impermeable surfaces and a lack of effective flood protection infrastructure. In many cases, nearby chemical sites, refineries and other industrial infrastructure are also located in flood zones, multiplying the risks of exposure to toxic chemicals during storms. While many middle-income white households face difficult decisions about whether to permanently leave their home in the floodplain, not everyone has the economic freedom to make such decisions. In many cases, Black residents and other people of color do not have access to the transportation or the savings to evacuate at a moment’s notice, let alone permanently relocate.

Storms

The overexposure of Black neighborhoods to flood risk, alongside the lack of resilience investment in these communities, also leads to disproportionate vulnerability to the impacts of storms. During Hurricane Katrina, Black individuals were among those that were least likely to evacuate, with access to transportation being a key factor. The city’s four largest public housing buildings, primarily occupied by Black residents, were permanently closed after incurring storm damage. Four of the seven zip codes enduring the costliest flood damage due to Hurricane Katrina were at least 75% Black and the community most damaged by Hurricane Harvey was 49% nonwhite. This is a common trend across the nation.

These statistics, stem partially from a history of inequitable funding. In 1965 Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans, causing the most damage in New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward, which are primarily Black neighborhoods. This catalyzed investment in levees to protect New Orleans from flood waters, but these investments went primarily to predominantly White neighborhoods which were not as damaged and already had some flood protection infrastructure. This distribution of funds foreshadowed the unequal distribution of impacts when Katrina hit decades later.

Sea level rise

Global sea levels have risen by about eight inches over the past century, with the rate of rise increasing recently. In responding to sea level rise, jurisdictions tend to take one of two approaches: invest in adaptation measures to keep the water out, or abandon an area to the rising seas. Studies show that low-income minority neighborhoods are more likely to be abandoned while higher-income predominately white neighborhoods tend more often to be protected. One reason for this is decision-making that relies only on financial indicators. Resilience investments driven by cost benefit analysis focusing only on the property values, rather than looking at social and cultural characteristics of a community, further contribute to the inequitable impact of climate change.

Relatedly, as the risks of sea level rise become more evident there is an increased risk of “blue-lining” – a term used by Tulane Professor Jesse Keenan, to express its connection to redlining. Many Black and low-income populations that did not receive investment in sound sewage and drainage systems due to redlining experience the worst impacts of flooding today. As banks and investors learn about exposure to floods and sea level rise, they are increasingly hesitant to offer funding to these neighborhoods. Yet without investment, communities are unable to improve their infrastructure and build resilience, further reinforcing the cycle of racial injustice.

Research in Miami-Dade County, Florida found a positive relationship between price appreciation and elevation in most study cities. This shift can potentially lead to ‘climate gentrification’—another term coined by Prof. Keenan, as minority populations migrate towards more exposed areas. For example, in Miami’s higher elevation, traditionally minority neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Little Haiti, rising property values are making homes unaffordable for residents, reflecting the new preference for high elevation. This combination of being priced out of higher elevation neighborhoods and property values decreasing in more exposed coastal areas may further contribute to the cycle of disproportionate exposure to sea level rise among Black populations and other minority residents.

Water Stress

According to the World Resources Institute’s data, 20% of the U.S. currently experiences “high” or “extremely high” water stress, and this number is expected to increase significantly by midcentury. Population growth will further threaten drinking water supplies, and the impacts will be uneven. In 2014 the water table in Fairmead, an unincorporated town in California’s Central Valley with majority Black and Latino residents, dried up and the citizens had to rely on donations and emergency relief for drinking water. Many of Fairmead’s residents are farmers, relying on water for their livelihoods as well as for human consumption, and water for irrigation comes from private wells that are only a few hundred feet deep. While these farmers cannot afford to drill deeper wells, nearby corporate farms can afford to drill wells up to 1,000 feet deep and are thus less affected by the dwindling water table. Climate change will exacerbate existing inequities around water access, particularly for Black and Indigenous communities.

Extreme Heat

Extreme heat kills more residents annually in the U.S. than any other climate hazard. Temperatures can vary by as much as 20ºF between neighborhoods due to the urban heat island effect. The hottest neighborhoods tend to be disproportionately covered in concrete and home to low-income and Black residents. Research shows that these urban development trends are connected to the history of racist housing policies. Residents in low-income and Black communities are also less likely than middle-income and white populations to have well-insulated homes, access to consistent air-conditioning or cool, safe public gathering spaces. Meanwhile, the asthma, heart disease and other chronic illnesses precipitated by exposure to air pollution, increases the health risks of extreme heat.

Conclusion

Due to a history of segregation and systematic economic oppression Black communities are consistently relegated to areas most exposed to flooding and extreme heat, while at the same time lacking resilience investment and access to educational, health and transportation resources to effectively prepare for and respond to disasters. Investing in equitable climate change adaptation is one facet of pursuing climate justice. Equitable adaptation requires involving community members in every step of decision-making and reviewing adaptation options based on the exposure and vulnerability of the community in question, as well as the potential for downstream impacts on others. We discuss this subject in our blog on equity as a cornerstone of adaptation.

How Can Asset Owners Manage Climate Risk?

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.

Conclusion

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.

Download this case study.

————————–

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.

Newsletter: Climate Resilience in the Age of COVID

Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments in climate risk and resilience. This month we discuss the overlapping challenges of COVID-19 and climate hazards, share consultations on climate risk for financial stakeholders and highlight developments in climate risk at Moody's.

The Compounding Challenges of Climate Hazards and COVID-19

Climate Preparedness Takes on New Meaning - Four Twenty Seven Analysis 

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 lost power because of a storm, with restoration efforts complicated by COVID-19. The devastating human health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbated by climate hazards, which threaten communities around the world. Four Twenty Seven's new analysis explores exposure to floods, heat stress, hurricanes and wildfires in U.S. municipalities alongside the impacts of COVID-19 on the same regions.

Our analysis explores exposure to extreme rainfall in the Midwest and the particular vulnerability of essential services such as manufacturers of personal protective equipment and farmers, to disruptions due to floods. It discusses the human health implications of extreme heat and its particular threat to business continuity from power disruptions when business operations are dispersed across employees' homes. States like Louisiana and Florida are addressing COVID-19 while preparing for a busy hurricane season. Likewise, typical wildfire preparations have been delayed and canceled due to the pandemic, leaving states like California, Washington and Colorado particularly vulnerable to this year's wildfires.
Read the Analysis

Further reading on climate change and COVID-19:

Public Consultations on Climate Change in the Financial Sector
While the world is sheltering from COVID-19, regulators are moving forward with their goals to address climate change. There are currently several open consultations to gather industry feedback on new standards and reporting requirements. 
 

EU Draft Minimum Standards for Climate Benchmarks

The European Commission is seeking feedback on draft standards for its "EU Climate Transition" and "EU Paris-aligned" benchmarks. The goals of the benchmarks are to increase transparency, help direct capital toward climate-friendly investments and prevent green-washing. Provide feedback by May 6.
 

FCA Proposal for Updated Climate Risk Disclosure

The UK Financial Conduct Authority is seeking feedback on its proposals to mandate climate risk disclosure for all commercial companies with premium listings. This requirement would build upon the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures recommendations and use a comply or explain approach. Respond by June 5.
 

Update to the EU Non-financial Reporting Directive

The European Commission is soliciting feedback on its non-financial reporting directive as part of its efforts to improve oversight of non-financial reporting in alignment with its Green Deal and a global call for a new approach to regulating non-financial disclosure. Provide feedback by June 11.
 

Consultation on Renewed EU Sustainable Finance Strategy

The European Commission is soliciting public feedback on its updated sustainable finance strategy, building upon its 2018 Action Plan for Sustainable Finance. This strategy aims to integrate climate change and other environmental considerations into the financial system, supporting the European Green Deal. The deadline to respond was extended to July 15.
ESG and Climate at Moody's

Moody's Launches New ESG & Climate Risk Website

Moody's new ESG and Climate Risk Hub collates resources on climate risk and ESG from Moody's and its affiliates, including Four Twenty Seven. The platform includes solutions and insights to help investors, lenders and other stakeholders integrate climate risk into decision-making.

ESG Factors Frequently Cited as Material Credit Considerations

Out of almost 8,000 Moody's private sector ratings actions in 2019, about a third referenced material ESG considerations. Moody's Investor Service's new report shares findings on how ESG considerations are factored into ratings actions.
Climate Risk News

New High Temperature Records Set

Last month was the hottest month on record for the world's oceans and the oceans' five hottest years have been within the last ten years. Warm oceans are connected to many climate hazards, ranging from hurricanes to wildfires. If the Atlantic remains warm during hurricane season, it's expected to contribute to stronger storms this year. Meanwhile, warm seas can pull rain from inland, contributing to drought associated with wildfire conditions. This occurred last year in Australia when the Indian Ocean was particularly warm off of Africa's coast.

Meanwhile, this year's first quarter had the second warmest air temperatures on record globally. NOAA projects there is a high chance that 2020 will become the warmest year on record.

Climate Resources for the Financial Sector

These ongoing scientific findings on the dire rate of climate change, including new temperature records and updated sea level rise projections, have significant financial implications. The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) launched a new Global
Sustainability and Climate Risk Resource Center to help communicate these risks. This platform introduces climate change for financial stakeholders and provides resources to help risk managers understand climate risks.
Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Senior Climate Data Analyst - John Naviaux

Four Twenty Seven welcomes John as Senior Climate Data Analyst. John performs stochastic modeling of climate and weather data to advance Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk analytics. Previously, John worked on topics ranging from transportation economics in Los Angeles to particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. John monitored arctic mercury pollution in Norway as part of a Fulbright Fellowship, and received his Ph.D. at Caltech for his research on the ocean’s response to climate change.

Four Twenty Seven is Here to Serve our Clients

As COVID-19 has led to widespread disruption in businesses and personal lives, Four Twenty Seven remains committed to ensuring the safety of our staff and clients while also continuing to provide the same data, analysis and client support that we are known for. Our business remains open globally, with teams in the U.S., Paris, London and Tokyo working remotely. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or on our cell phones. 
Upcoming Events

An Update on Postponements and Cancellations:

  • Apr 28 – Afire Rising Leaders Summit, New York, NY: Chief Revenue Officer, Lisa Stanton, will speak - CANCELED
  • May 12 at 10am EDT – IIF ESG Webinar Series: Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change: Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati will speak.
  • May 18 – Sciences Po Award Dinner, New York, NY: Founder and CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, will speak. - POSTPONED
  • Jun 8 - 12 – University of Notre Dame CARE Conference, Heron Island, AU: Director of Communications, Natalie Ambrosio, will speak. - CANCELED
  • Jun 9 - 10 – Responsible Investor London 2020, London, UK: Members of the Four Twenty Seven team will attend and host a booth. - PENDING
  • Sept 2-3 – Risk Americas Convention, New York, NY: Members of the Four Twenty Seven team will host a booth and present on climate risk.
  • Sept 9 The Future of ESG Data 2020, London, UK: Senior Analyst, Léonie Chatain, will speak.
  • Sept 15 - 16 – Responsible Investor Tokyo 2020, Tokyo, Japan: Members of the Four Twenty Seven team will present on risk disclosure and host a booth. 
Twitter
Twitter
LinkedIn
LinkedIn
YouTube
YouTube
Facebook
Facebook
Website
Website
Email
Email
Copyright © 2020 Four Twenty Seven, All rights reserved.
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









The Compounding Challenges of Climate Hazards and COVID-19

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.

Figure 1. Exposure to extreme rainfall by county, with red representing the most exposed counties and dark green representing the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven.

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.

Heat Waves

Figure 2. Exposure to heat stress by county, with red representing the most exposed counties and dark green representing the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven.

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.

Hurricanes

Figure 3. Exposure to hurricanes by county, with red representing the most exposed counties and dark green representing the least exposed. Source: Four Twenty Seven.

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.

Wildfires

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.

Conclusion

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.

Moody’s: Utilities Exposed to Increasing Climate Risk

The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events and chronic stresses driven by climate change have particular implications for the utility sector. In it’s report, US Regulated Electric Utilities Face Varied Exposure to Climate Hazards, Moody’s Investors Service leverages Four Twenty Seven’s physical climate risk data to explore the exposure of regulated electric utilities to climate hazards, including heat stress, water stress, flooding and hurricanes.

The analysis found that heat stress will likely have the greatest impact on utilities in the Midwest and southern Florida, reducing power grids’ efficiency and increasing expenditures. The Western U.S., specifically the Rocky Mountain states and California, is the region most exposed to long-term water stress. Since many electric utilities depend on water for cooling, water stress is typically credit negative for utilities.

In other areas of the country utilities are exposed to  extreme rainfall and flooding, which are responsible for many power outages. However, regulation and flood insurance help to reduce the credit impacts of floods. Along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal areas, increasingly severe hurricanes and storm surges will threaten key infrastructure assets such as transmissions substations and power plants. While hurricanes can lead to substantial costs and disruptions for utilities, the states in these regions often have credit-supportive regulation, allowing utilities to recoup costs after these events.

Utility companies across the U.S. are exposed to a variety of physical climate risks that threaten to damage or destroy utility infrastructure, increase operating expenses and affect their credit. These risks, however, can be mitigated with resilience investments by utility companies and by regulation and adaptation in jurisdictions in which they operate.

Moody’s subscribers can read the full report here.

—————-

To learn more about Four Twenty Seven’s climate risk data, check out our solutions for investors, banks and corporations or read our report on Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities.

Newsletter: How does climate risk threaten financial stability?

Four Twenty Seven's monthly newsletter highlights recent developments on climate risk and resilience. This month we feature analyses on climate change from the Federal Reserve, highlight insights on climate risk across sectors and announce the opening of Four Twenty Seven's Tokyo Office.

In Focus: Regulators Speak Up on the Financial Impacts of Climate Change

Federal Reserve Publishes Research on Climate Resilience

Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco released a set of articles on the impacts of climate change on communities and the economic and financial implications of these risks. The articles cover a range of topics including the impacts of sea level rise on real estate assets and lending, the need for innovation in insurance markets and the implications of climate-induced migration for the private sector. Four Twenty Seven contributed a piece on the connection between community resilience and asset-level resilience, describing a methodology for investors to understand and promote community adaptive capacity.

"The collection of 18 papers by outside experts amounts to one of the most specific and dire accountings of the dangers posed to businesses and communities in the United States — a threat so significant that the nation’s central bank seems increasingly compelled to address it." - The New York Times' Christopher Flavelle wrote.
Read the Publication

International Monetary Fund to Assess Financial Risk of Climate Change

“'We are doing work on the pricing of climate risks and to what extent it is priced into stock and bond markets,' Tobias Adrian, financial counselor and director of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department, told Reuters." Adrian cited the costly impact of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and growing investor concern around the mispricing of climate risk in mortgage-backed securities as examples of the widespread financial impacts of climate change. This was one of many climate change conversations at the IMF's annual meeting last week.
Resources for Resilience Across Sectors  

Optimizing Community Infrastructure

Optimizing Community Infrastructure: Resilience in the Face of Shocks and Stresses examines the multiple dimensions of infrastructure that underpin resilient societies. The book discusses transportation infrastructure as well as utilities, land use and buildings and includes case studies and guidance on financing resilient infrastructure. Four Twenty Seven co-wrote a chapter with Climate Finance Advisors that examines how physical climate risks can impact infrastructure assets throughout their life cycle and ways in which investors and lending institutions can identify and manage physical climate risks in infrastructure assets. 

Resilient Cities - Transforming Over Time

This set of editorials discusses innovative opportunities to adapt communities and infrastructure to climate risks. The pieces cover the economic and social elements of climate risk and resilience, and Four Twenty Seven contributed an article, Addressing Shared Climate Risks to Build Community-Corporate Resilience. 

Podcast: Climate Change is Here. Are We Ready?

Founder & CEO, Emilie Mazzacurati, joins a new podcast, The Last Environmentalist, to discuss the evolving views of climate risk in the financial sector. Emilie describes near-term impacts of climate change on real estate markets, adaptation actions taken by corporations and the linkages between climate risk and resilience across private and public sectors.
 Climate Change Exacerbated the Impacts of Typhoon Hagibis
Within 24 hours Typhoon Hagibis sent over three feet of rain into areas surrounding Tokyo, as fierce winds exacerbated flooding from storm surge. At least 74 people died, 34,000 homes lost power and 110,000 lost running water. Meanwhile, disrupted ground transportation and damaged facilities had rippling effects. Subaru stopped operations at three facilities in the area due to disruptions at their suppliers, other automobile manufacturers halted production at damaged facilities and logistics firms incurred the costs of doubling their distance with alternate routes. 

While many areas of Japan have robust building standards to account for already frequent typhoons, the frequency and distribution of storms in Japan is shifting. Three of Japan's most costly typhoons since 1950 have happened in the past two years, with Typhoon Hagibis expected to be the fourth. The storm was unique partly because it is rare for storms to hit Tokyo with so much force. Research shows that tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific Ocean Basin are reaching maximum intensities further north than they used to, partly influenced by climate change, which means areas less accustomed to these extreme storms may experience them more often. 
Inside the Office at Four Twenty Seven

Four Twenty Seven Opens Toyko Office and Announces Country Director

Yesterday, Four Twenty Seven announced the opening of its Tokyo Office. This office opens as investors and businesses in Japan and across the Asia-Pacific region face increasing market pressure to assess and disclose the risks physical climate hazards pose to their investments.

Four Twenty Seven welcomes Toshi Matsumae as Director of Japan. Toshi leverages his 30 years of experience in sales and development to lead Four Twenty Seven’s effort to provide climate risk screening to investors, asset managers, banks and corporations striving to understand their risk to physical climate hazards throughout Japan.
“We’ve seen growing demand from Japanese markets over the past year for transparency around exposure to physical climate risks in corporate assets, investment portfolios and in credit portfolios,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, Four Twenty Seven’s Founder and CEO. “Four Twenty Seven’s on-the-ground presence in Japan will allow us to bring asset-level risk data to support this demand and inform global resilience-building.”

Join the Team! Four Twenty Seven is Hiring

There are several opportunities to join Four Twenty Seven's dynamic team in offices across the U.S. and Europe. See the open positions below and visit our Careers page for more information.
  • Regional Sales Directors (North America and United Kingdom), with extensive experience selling and supporting data products and services for large commercial, financial and government institutions
  • Controller experienced in financial reporting, planning and analysis
  • Director of Financial Data Systems with significant experience in the development and management of financial data processing, storage and retrieval
Upcoming Events

Join the Four Twenty Seven team at these events:

  • Oct 25 – Yale Alumni Real Estate Annual Conference, New Haven, CT: Senior Analyst, Lindsay Ross, will speak about resilience planning in real estate.
  • Nov 5 – Moody's ESG Conference, London, UK: Director of Analytics, Nik Steinberg, will discuss climate change's financial implications and Chief Revenue Officer, Lisa Stanton, will also join. 
  • Nov 7 –  Moody's U.S. Public Finance Conference, New York, NY: Lindsay Ross will participate. 
  • Nov 7 - 8 – Building Resilience 2019, Cleveland, OH: Global Director of Client Services, Yoon Kim, will speak on a panel about public-private partnerships.
  • Nov 8 – Yale Initiative on Sustainable Finance Symposium, New Haven, CT: Editor, Natalie Ambrosio, will speak about physical climate risk disclosure. Invite-only.
  • Nov 13 - 15 – SRI Conference, Colorado Springs, CO: Natalie Ambrosio will speak about physical climate risk in investments.
  • Nov 21 - 22 – IACPM 2019 Annual Fall Conference, Miami, FL: Lisa Stanton will speak at this International Association of Credit Portfolio Managers conference.
  • Nov 29 – Climate Finance Day, Paris, France: Lisa Stanton, Director, Europe, Nathalie Borgeaud, and Senior Analyst, Léonie Chatain, will attend.
  • Dec 4 – 2019 HIVE Conference, Austin, TX: Strategic Advisor, Josh Sawislak, will present about how to use data to build resilience. 
  • Dec 4 - RI New York 2019, New York City, NY: Yoon Kim, will speak on the panel “Banks, insurers and climate risk stress-testing,” and Lindsay Ross and Natalie Ambrosio will host Four Twenty Seven's booth.
  • Jan 6 - Jan 9NCSE 2020 Annual Conference, Washington, DC: Yoon Kim and Lindsay Ross will speak about cross-sector resilience-building and resilient infrastructure, respectively.
Twitter
Twitter
LinkedIn
LinkedIn
YouTube
YouTube
Facebook
Facebook
Website
Website
Email
Email
Copyright © 2019 Four Twenty Seven, All rights reserved.
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









Scenario Analysis for Physical Climate Risk: Equity Markets

In this second installment of our blog series of scenario analysis, we focus on how investors can start exploring impacts on portfolios of listed equities/fixed income with existing climate risk analytics. The series provides our current reflections on how corporations and financial institutions can integrate physical climate risk into scenario analysis. The first installment, on foundations, focuses on important characteristics of climate science that affect how climate data can be used to inform scenario analysis for economic and financial risk. A forthcoming post will discuss scenario analysis at the asset level for real asset investments and corporate facilities.

Scenario Analysis Serves Different Purposes

Scenario analysis serves different purposes for real asset investors and for equity or fixed income investors. When looking at a single real asset, scenario analysis can be used to inform very concrete decisions regarding the asset, working directly with the asset operator: whether and what flood protections to put in place, insurance requirements, anticipated impacts on operational costs from water and energy consumption, etc.

In contrast, for an equity or fixed income portfolio, investors’ influence on the resilience of the underlying asset (e.g. a corporation or a sovereign entity) is much more limited. In a previous publication we discussed the importance of shareholder engagement with corporations as a key channel for investors to help raise awareness of rising risks from climate change, and encourage companies to invest in responsible corporate adaptation measures. Investors, however, would be hard pressed to run scenario analysis on individual portfolio companies themselves, and disclosures from corporations on scenario analysis remain weak and fragmented.

Meanwhile, prudential authorities in Europe have been signalling expectations that insurers and banks perform scenario analysis on their portfolio to examine potential impacts of climate change, to understand how different climate-driven outcomes might prevent the insurers and lenders from meeting their financial obligations. Most recently, in April, the Bank of England Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) released a proposed set of specifications for scenario analysis that includes some simplified assumptions on climate impacts on financial portfolios.

In this piece we examine how available climate risk analytics can be leveraged to inform early attempts at developing stress test assumptions and simulate potential outcomes on investment portfolios aligned with the relative exposure of corporations by sectors and by regions.

Climate Risk Analytics for Equities/Fixed Income

We leverage our data on corporate physical risk exposure to determine what assumptions can be made in this type of early stress test. In this piece, we analyze the climate risk scores for 1730 of the largest companies in MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI). This physical risk assessment is based on the exposure of the underlying database of about a million facilities globally.

We score each company on three components of physical climate risk: Operations Risk, Supply Chain Risk and Market Risk.

427 Methodology Chart
Figure 1. 427 indicators for physical climate risk exposure in corporations (equities/fixed income)
  • A company’s Operations Risk is based on its facility-level exposure to hurricanes & typhoons, sea level rise, floods, extreme heat and water stress. The analysis also considers the sensitivity of different types of facilities. For example, manufacturing plants with their high energy demands are more sensitive to extreme heat than offices.
  • Supply Chain Risk is based on the risk in countries that export commodities that the company depends on and a company’s reliance on climate-sensitive resources such as water, land and energy, based on its industry.
  • Market Risk is based on where a company’s sales are generated and how its industry has historically been impacted by weather variability.

Scores are normalized, with 0 being the least exposed and 100 being the most exposed. (For more details, please refer to our previous report Physical Climate Risk in Equity Portfolios as well as our Solutions page)

In line with considerations of relevant time horizons and of impacts being locked in over the climatic short term (detailed in Part 1), our standard equity risk score data considers projected climate impacts in the 2030-2040 time period under a single RCP scenario, RCP 8.5 (the worst case scenario, also known as business as usual), but leverages several climate models.

From Climate Hazard Exposure to Financial Impacts

Studies of how physical climate hazards translate into financial impacts at the company level are scarce. While a growing body of research explores the complex relationships between climate hazards and economic impacts, which vary by sector and by region, academic research on the relationship between climate events and corporate/stock performance, at scale, is still limited. Our approach focuses on leveraging what can be estimated in a robust, data-driven way: relative exposure of companies to climate hazards.

Our analysis of global corporations shows the relative exposure of industries to climate related risks across all three dimensions: operations risk, market risk and supply chain risk (Table 1). This table shows the sectors with the highest exposure, including manufacturing, infrastructure (utility, energy, transportation), and industries with high dependency on natural resources (food, apparel).

Table 1. Industries most exposed to physical climate risks . Source: Four Twenty Seven.

Services, not shown in the table, are not only less exposed, they’re also far less sensitive to changes in climatic conditions, with the exception of the financial sector, which holds the risk of all the other sectors in its investment, lending or insurance portfolios. Note that real estate is not included in this analysis, but data on regional exposure in that sector can be found in our white paper on climate risk in real estate.

These differentiated impacts by sectors can lay the foundations for a stress test, as industry risk levels can be used to set initial assumptions on sector-wide impacts. Following the example set out by the Bank of England’s PRA, for example, investors could assume that sectors with high exposure might see a 10% or 20% drop in value, whereas sectors with medium exposure would see half of that impact. These assumptions are not intended to substitute for financial impact modeling, but provide a shortcut to test how a portfolio might perform under climate-driven duress.

Drivers of Exposure to Physical Climate Risk

While some sectors overlap with those examined in scenario analysis exercises for transition risk, such as utilities and energy, other sectors with high exposure are not typically included in scenario analysis, like tech manufacturing or pharmaceuticals. Understanding the nuances of the risk pathways in each sector and their relative exposure to different hazards is critical to refining assumptions and developing models that can quantify value-at-risk by sector with some accuracy.

Manufacturing companies in the tech sector rely on complex value chains that can be interrupted by extreme weather events, particularly in Asia, which is a region highly exposed to typhoons and extreme precipitation. They also often produce expensive and water sensitive products using costly machinery and can incur costs and damages from extreme events on site.  Pharmaceuticals are particularly exposed because of the prevalence of their manufacturing in water-stressed regions (India, California) and regions highly exposed to hurricanes & typhoons. For example, damaged manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico had rippling impacts on pharmaceutical operations globally during Hurricane Maria in 2017. Pharmaceuticals is also one of the groups with the most weight in the MSCI ACWI, making this exposure particularly significant (Fig 2).

Figure 2. The average company risk score by GICS Industry Group, with Operations Risk on the y-axis and Market & Supply Chain Risk on the x-axis. Red represents those industries with the highest exposure, green represents those with the lowest exposure and the size of the bubble signifies an industry’s weight in the MSCI ACWI.  Source: Four Twenty Seven.

In the utility sector, the nature of the exposure is very different from that observed in transition risk analysis: carbon neutral power generation can be as exposed as thermal generation – for example due to water stress or floods for hydro facilities. In addition, utilities rely on expensive equipment, such as cables, poles, fuel storage and pipes that are often exposed to severe weather and sensitive to extreme conditions. Their operations are also resource-intensive, relying heavily on energy and water for cooling. They can experience operations disruptions during peak energy demands or due to equipment damage during storms.

The exposure of the automobiles & components sector has been illustrated by recent flooding in Japan. Automobile companies rely on manufacturing processes and machinery that can be interrupted due to flooding or hurricane damage, but their reliance on employee labor also makes these companies vulnerable to the wider regional impacts of extreme events. For example, during Japan’s extreme flooding in July 2018, Mazda was forced to halt operations at some of its facilities that were not physically damaged themselves, because its employees could not travel safely to work.

Conclusion

Climate change calls for a better understanding of impacts of physical hazards on financial markets, which remains a topic largely unexplored. Yet as regulators push insurers and banks towards the integration of climate scenarios into stress testing, robust, data-driven views on the relative exposure of sectors or regions provide a helpful foundation from which to explore the potential impacts on equity and fixed income portfolios.

Over time, better data will become available as academic and industry providers develop models that capture the nuances of climate impacts on different industries and geographies, but also as companies make a concerted effort to disclose better data on their past and anticipated financial exposure to extreme weather and climate-related events.

———————————–

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.

Webinar: Climate Risk in Real Estate

This webinar on climate risk in real estate presents Four Twenty Seven and GeoPhy’s analysis of exposure to physical climate hazards in global real estate investment trusts (REITs).  The presentations includes key findings from the white paper, Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line and a discussion of how physical climate data is leveraged in financial risk reporting for the real estate sector.

Download the slides, including links to resources discussed during the presentations and additional Q&A slides based on the webinar.

Summary

  1. Context and Introductions: Dr. Nils Kok, Chief Economist at GeoPhy and Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven
  1. Data and Methodology: Dr. Nils Kok presents GeoPhy’s database of REITs holdings and Nik Steinberg, Director of Analytics at Four Twenty Seven, shares Four Twenty Seven’s scoring methodology for climate risk exposure.
  1. Key Findings: Kendall Starkman, Manager at Four Twenty Seven, presents key findings highlighted in the paper, Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line.
  1. Market Implications & Opportunities for Investors: Emilie Mazzacurati discusses best practices for integrating physical climate risk into financial risk disclosures for real estate investors and Chris Pyke, Research Officer, U.S. Green Building Council, shares results from the GRESB Resilience Module and discusses plans to support reporting on climate risk.

Read more about Four Twenty Seven and GeoPhy’s REITs data product and our other solutions for investors.

Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line

OCTOBER 11, 2018 – BOSTON, MA – Four Twenty Seven & GeoPhy Release First Global Dataset on Real Estate Investment Trusts’ Exposure to Climate Change. 

Four Twenty Seven and real estate technology company GeoPhy today announce the release of a data product that provides granular projections of the impacts of climate change on real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs represent an increasingly important asset class that provides investors with a vehicle for gaining exposure to portfolios of real estate. The data was launched at the Urban Land Institute Fall Event in Boston, MA, accompanied by a white paper that lays out the implications of climate risk for the real estate sector.

Four Twenty Seven applied its scoring model of asset-level climate risk exposure to GeoPhy’s database of listed real estate investment trusts’ (REITs) holdings, to create the first global, scientific assessment of REITs’ exposure to climate risk. The dataset includes detailed, contextualized projections of climate impacts from floods due to extreme precipitation and sea level rise, exposure to hurricane-force winds,  water stress and heat stress for over 73,500 properties owned by 321 listed REITs.

“Real estate is on the frontline of exposure to climate change” said Emilie Mazzacurati, founder and CEO of Four Twenty Seven. “Many valuable locations and markets are often coastal or near bodies of water, and therefore are going to experience increases in flood occurrences due to increases in extreme rainfall and to sea level rise.” she noted. “These risks can now be assessed with great precision — the availability of this data provides investors with an opportunity to perform comprehensive due diligence which reflects all dimensions of emerging risks.” she concluded.

“The market has begun to price in the potential impacts of fat-tail climate events” noted Dr. Nils Kok, Chief Economist of GeoPhy. “Properties exposed to sea level rise in some parts of the United States are selling at a 7% discount to those with less exposure, and the value of commercial real estate is expected to equally reflect these risks. Leveraging forward-looking data on risk exposure can allow REIT investors to anticipate changes in market valuations and react accordingly.”

Read the report: Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line.

Key findings include:

  • 35 percent of REITs properties globally are currently exposed to climate hazards. Of these, 17 percent of properties are exposed to inland flood risk, 6 percent to sea level rise and coastal floods, and 12 percent to hurricanes or typhoons
  • U.S. markets most exposed to sea level rise include New York, San Francisco, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Boston. The high-value REITs most exposed to sea level rise in the U.S. are Vornado Realty Trust and Equity Residential.*
  • Globally, REITs concentrated in Hong Kong and Singapore display the highest exposure to rising seas. Sun Hung Kai Properties, worth $56 billion, has over a quarter of its properties exposed to coastal flooding.
  • 37 Japanese REITs have their entire portfolio exposed to the highest risk for typhoon globally, representing $264.5 billion at risk in properties in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

Read the report Climate Risk, Real Estate, and the Bottom Line.

Download the Press Release.

*Erratum: A previous version of this blog post mentioned in error that CapitaLand is one of the U.S. REITs most exposed to sea level rise. CapitaLand is a Singapore-based REIT with some exposure to sea level rise but it is not among the most exposed.

———————

Read more about Four Twenty Seven’s REITs data product and our other solutions for investors.

Time and Tides – Flooding in Japan

July 15, 2018 – 427 ANALYSIS: Record-setting rains in Japan led to floods and landslides that disrupted business operations of automobile manufacturers, electronic companies and others. Understanding the ownership and operations of facilities located in the damaged areas provides insight into what companies and industries may exhibit downturns in performance over the near term and be vulnerable to similar storms in the future.

Japan was the inundated by over 70 inches of rain in early July, an event that resulted in significant loss of life and business disruptions. The clouds have since receded, leaving economic damage with long-term implications yet to be understood. However, estimates expect industry losses to be in the billions USD. Destruction was centered in Okayama and Hiroshima, driven by flooding and landslides.

Typhoons Prapiroon and Maria contributed to this rainfall and climate scientists expect a warmer climate to increase the severity of these storms. Japan has fewer preparations in place for floods than it does for other extreme events, and understanding the various manifestations of risk caused by extreme rainfall is essential to mitigating damage in the future.

Much of Okayama sits immediately below mountains, which makes it particularly exposed to devastating landslides following significant rainfall events. Bursting pipes and power outages led over 250,000 homes in the Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures to go without water for several days after the floods. Landslides destroyed homes and exacerbated infrastructure damage caused by flooding.

Many business operations were severely impacted by these events as well, and some facilities remain closed.  Companies such as Panasonic experienced physical damage due to flooded facilities, and others were impacted by damaged infrastructure and communities, impacting their supply chains and workforce.

Okayama and Hiroshima are centers of economic activity for a number of key sectors in Japan, hosting production facilities for auto manufacturing, consumer electronics, retail trade and others. The figure below highlights the concentration of facilities of companies in the auto manufacturing industry by the sector of their operations. Companies that rely heavily on manufacturing operations are particularly vulnerable to flooding due in part to their utilization of expensive equipment that can easily incur water damage.

The heavy rainfalls showed no favorites in their disruption of manufacturing facilities across industries. For example, Mitsubishi and Mazda halted operations at some factories during the storms, due in part to supply chain disruptions. Many companies were also forced to pause operations because employees couldn’t get to work. While Mazda’s headquarters in Hiroshima Prefecture and a production facility in Yamaguchi Prefecture weren’t damaged themselves, they remained closed after the storms until employees could return to work safely. Likewise IHI Corp. closed its No. 2 Kure factory in Hiroshima  because of water shortages and employees’ commute challenges.

The extent of   long-term economic impacts that these companies will bear in the aftermath of last week’s storms is not yet known, but merits ongoing examination as the region recovers. Understanding the location of a corporation’s facilities and their exposure to extreme weather events is a key starting point for gauging exposure, and therefore can be instrumental in understanding company’s future performance.

Four Twenty Seven’s extensive facility level database can help investors proactively identify their portfolio companies’ exposures both to chronic climate effects and to individual extreme weather events such as the extreme rainfall that beset Okayama and Hiroshima. This deeper understanding can drive better risk-return tradeoffs, and importantly, shareholder engagement strategies that foster investments in resilience.