Weathering the Storm: How businesses are navigating a changing climate

More than 800 major weather-related disasters last year led to over $130 billion in losses worldwide. Eleven of those events each resulted in economic losses of $1 billion or more.

A new C2ES report, "Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change," examines how major global companies are beginning to assess and address the growing business risks associated with increased extreme weather and other impacts of climate change. Here’s what we found:

Leading companies are taking proactive steps to better anticipate extreme weather and climate changes, and to more quickly recover after their effects — where they see opportunities to become more efficient, reduce costs, or provide greater value to customers. Generally speaking, these companies follow a four-step process.

Weathering the Storm: How to build business resilience to climate change

From the record-breaking Black Forest wildfire in Colorado to record-low water levels for the Great Lakes, extreme weather events seem to be more the norm of late than the exception. Earlier this month, NOAA ranked 2012 as the United States’ second most costly year for damages from extreme weather events. 

The increasing financial risks associated with extreme weather have not been lost on the business community. Companies have always had to navigate a changing business environment. But now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change leads to higher sea levels and more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and downpours.

A new C2ES report released today, "Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change," takes a comprehensive look at how major global companies view these rising risks and what they are beginning to do to better understand and manage them. 

The “Instability Ingredient” and Business Risk

Businesses have always had to predict and manage risks. Those risks include the potential impact of extreme weather such as floods, storms and drought on a company's supply chain, power supply, and property.

But now companies must find a way to factor in the "instability ingredient" -- climate change -- which is likely to make weather more unpredictable, extreme -- and costly -- in the future.

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Business and government start preparing for climate impacts

Today’s Senate hearing isn’t just about the science of climate change. It’s also about the actions that need to be taken now to adapt to the reality of a changing climate. Businesses and governments each have a critical role to play in building resilient communities and economies.

Business-as-usual is already being interrupted by extreme heat, historic drought, record-setting wildfires, and flooding. Events from water shortages to floods are disrupting the supply chains for such companies as Honda, Toyota, Kraft, Nestle and MillerCoors. By the end of 2011, the United States had recorded more billion-dollar disasters than it did during all of the 1980s, totaling about $55 billion in losses.

Promoting Low-Carbon Innovation at Rio+20

As Rio+20 negotiators rush to complete a consolidated text of outcomes before heads of state begin arriving tomorrow, participants at hundreds of side events are calling on business and government to take stronger action on clean energy, poverty elimination, food security, oceans, sustainable cities, green technology development, education, and more.

On Sunday at the U.S. Center pavilion, C2ES and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) convened a panel of companies, small-business innovators, and business representatives highlighting the critical roles played by each in promoting low-carbon innovation and sustainable development.