Are businesses prepared for climate impacts?

Increased extreme weather and climate-related impacts are imposing significant costs on communities and companies alike. While some businesses are taking steps to assess and address climate risks, many face internal and external challenges to building climate resilience.

In a new report, Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resiliencereleased at Climate Week NYC, C2ES examined how major global companies are preparing for climate risks, and what is keeping them from doing more.

C2ES reviewed public disclosures of S&P Global 100 companies, conducted in-depth interviews, and held workshops with business leaders, government officials, academics and other stakeholders. Key findings include:

Major companies recognize and report climate risks.

We found 91 of the world’s largest 100 companies see extreme weather and other climate impacts as business risks. Business leaders see climate risks firsthand – in damaged facilities, interrupted power and water supplies, disrupted supply and distribution chains, and impacts on their employees’ lives.

Most (84 companies) discussed climate risk concerns in CDP questionnaires. Fewer companies did so in their sustainability reports (47) or financial filings (40).

More companies are assessing their vulnerabilities.

The vast majority of companies rely on existing risk management or business continuity planning to address climate risks.

Many see climate change as a “threat magnifier” that exacerbates risks they already know and understand. This lens puts climate change into a familiar business context, but companies could overlook or underestimate the threats they face.

Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience

Weathering the Next Storm:
A Closer Look at Business Resilience

September 22, 2015

By Katy Maher and Janet Peace

Download the Report (PDF)

Infographic with key takeaways
and recommendations.

As we saw once again in 2014—the warmest year globally on record—increases in extreme weather and other climate-related impacts are imposing significant costs on society. Even as governments, companies and communities strengthen efforts to reduce emissions contributing to climate change, they are awakening to the urgent need to address growing climate impacts. Across the United States, governments at all levels are taking steps to strengthen climate resilience. Simultaneously, a growing number of companies are recognizing extreme weather and climate change as present or future business risks. For many companies, these rising risks extend well beyond the “fence line” to critical supply chains and infrastructure, and can be effectively managed only in partnership with the public sector.

Janet Peace
Katy Maher

How a Green Fair connection helped the environment and employees

For most Americans, getting to work means getting in a car – alone. Using public transportation instead can help the planet because it is more fuel efficient to move people together than separately. At a recent Green Fair in Springdale, Arkansas, we also learned just how much public transportation can help employees, especially those without a driver’s license or a car who struggle to get to work each day.

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The Green Fair C2ES hosted with Alcoa brought people together to share information and opportunities about energy conservation and sustainability-focused groups in the community.

The connection made at the fair between Alcoa and Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) brought to light a critical problem – and a potential solution. Some of Alcoa’s workers rely on friends, co-workers, and family members for a ride to work. That means if their ride is sick or has another obligation, they may be late for work, or may not make it at all. For Alcoa, that can mean reduced productivity and high employee turnover.

To address this problem, Ozark Regional Transit has decided to launch a new bus route and a pilot program offering free passes to Alcoa employees for the next several months. The distinctive blue buses will wind through nearby neighborhoods and go past Alcoa and a number of other manufacturing companies, who will also participate in the pilot project.

If the program, initiated by Tyson Foods, is successful, companies may decide to extend the service or offer reduced fares as an employee benefit.

Bob Perciasepe's remarks at the Innovative Financing and Clean Power Solutions Forum





JUNE 25, 2015

Welcome everybody and thank you for being here. I especially want to thank our co-host for today’s event: The George Washington University Law School’s Environment and Energy Program.

My name is Bob Perciasepe and I’m president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, or C2ES.

I think many of you know us, but for those of you who don’t, we’re an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to bringing diverse interests together to solve our climate and energy challenges.

Today is a perfect example of how we go about doing that. We’re going to be talking a lot about energy efficiency and renewable energy – and how innovative financing can help us increase investment in those areas. I’m pleased to be bringing together top financial experts from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and the Coalition for Green Capital; state leaders from Tennessee and Pennsylvania; and energy leaders from Schneider Electric and Duke Energy. I think this group in itself shows you the mix of people who have to start working harder together to make sure we can make progress on clean energy and energy efficiency.

Finance may or may not have been your favorite class in college, but much of the progress we need to address our climate challenge – more efficiency and more low-carbon energy -- comes down to one question: How do we pay for it? Financing and using markets are ways to accelerate the rate of change.

On the other side of the coin, we’re already paying mounting costs worldwide for climate impacts like increasingly frequent storms and intense heat waves. We’re seeing rising sea levels creating higher risk in coastal areas. We face the prospect of more damage to our infrastructure and more disruptions to our supply and distribution chains, as well as our power and water supplies.

The primary cause of these problems, and you can take this all the way to the Vatican, is us. We’ve been pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere for generations. Last year was the hottest since we started keeping records over 100 years ago.

But we know that there are things we can do. We know what some of the solutions are. We know how to make progress within a generation to change that trajectory. We need cleaner energy, cleaner cars, and more efficient ways to use energy.

Here in the United States, the No. 1 source of carbon emissions is the generation of electricity. EPA is in the process of finalizing a plan that will put a lot of responsibility on states to look at how they can innovate to develop clean power plans to reduce emissions from electric generation. We already have a process underway with light duty vehicles and heavy duty trucks, making them more energy efficient. And we have a lot of opportunity to think about how to do this at the state level for power.

The beauty here is while we continue to think about how to deal with this at the national level, cities and states and businesses are already innovating. They’re already making progress not only in reducing emissions but also in finding ways to accelerate the rate of change and stimulate innovation.

Of course, we want not just clean energy, but also affordable energy. This is a balance we have to have. We’re seeing solar and other renewables drop in price, something that can continue with increased deployment. Efficiency reduces how much energy we use, so that even if there’s a slight uptick in rates, a homeowner’s bill can stay the same.

The objective of having cleaner power and also using less of it provides a real opportunity to find that sweet spot of maintaining that affordability. It’s like what we’re looking at with automobiles. If you use less fuel, the actual cost to own the car is cheaper. The same can be said of energy efficiency in the home, business, and industry.

C2ES found something interesting on affordability when we recently looked at six economic modeling studies of the Clean Power Plan. All of the models project energy efficiency will be the most-used option to implement the plan. The majority of the studies project either cost savings to consumers or total costs of less than $10 billion a year, Per household, that’s about 25 cents a day.

So, how do we get to this future of affordable clean energy and energy efficiency? It takes investment, and that’s what we’re here to explore. How do we catalyze that investment? How do we leverage public funds to get more private dollars? What innovative business models are already working, and how do we scale those up?

It’s not simple. We face some barriers to investment like high upfront costs. If you invest in new windows and solar panels for a high rise, it will take a while to recover those costs in lower energy bills. Another barrier is lack of familiarity. People aren’t sure about new technologies and new financial products, which can make them harder to buy and sell.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these barriers. We have a brief overview of some of these options. I’ll mention two: Clean Energy Banks, sometimes called Green Banks; and Energy Savings Performance Contracts.

Clean Energy Banks are generally government-created institutions that can leverage a small amount of public money to increase private investment in clean technologies. Several states have them or something like them – Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, and Hawaii. And others, like Maryland, California, and D.C are thinking about them.

They can provide direct loans, but they also have other tools, such as credit enhancements, letters of credit, and loan loss reserves, that can help lower the risk for private lenders and investors.

So far, Connecticut’s green bank, the nation’s first, has attracted about $9 of private investment for every $1 of public money invested in clean energy projects. The bank oversees more than $100 million in assets.

The second example is an Energy Service Company, or ESCO, whose business model is based on establishing Energy Savings Performance Contracts with customers like cities, hospitals and universities. These contracts let a customer get energy-saving or clean-energy technology at little to no upfront cost. They pay the investment back over time from the money saved through reduced energy bills.

The City of Knoxville, Tennessee, has a 13-year energy performance savings contract that will fund energy efficiency measures at all city buildings, parks and sports facilities. Each year, Knoxville will pay the ESCO a fee based on expected savings from things like better lighting, water conservation, weatherization, and heating and cooling upgrades.

Innovative financial tools are not a panacea, but they are an essential tool to overcoming many of the barriers facing a new technology. They can also engage a broader group of investors, bring more capital to the table, and reduce costs. Those are the conditions that allow new technologies to spread.


Key Resources

The Earth is undoubtedly warming. What’s the cause, what are the impacts, and what can we do about it?

Scientists and analysts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) review the climate science basics and answer your frequently asked questions.

Below is a list of resources to learn more about the impacts of climate change, what individuals can do to help, and which policies can make a big difference

What are the Impacts of Climate Change?

The Earth is warming and will continue to do so if we keep releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This warming brings an increased risk of more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. To learn more:

  • Tropical storms and hurricanes. A warmer world and higher sea levels will intensify the impacts of hurricanes. Learn more about the connection between hurricanes and climate change.
  • Drought. Global warming will increase the risk of drought in some regions. Warmer temperatures can increase water demand and evaporation, stressing water supplies. Learn about the links between climate change and drought.
  • Heat waves. As the Earth warms, more areas will be at risk for extreme heat waves. Learn more about the link between climate change and extreme heat, the other risks heat waves can spawn, and what’s being done to adapt.
  • Arctic melting. Warming has increased Arctic temperatures at about twice the global rate, and Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking much faster than scientists anticipated. Our Arctic Security report explores how this can set the stage for international disputes.
  • Wildfires. The number of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season have been increasing in recent decades. Find out how climate change will worsen wildfire conditions.
  • Heavy Precipitation. Heavy downpours and other extreme precipitation are becoming more common and are producing more rain or snow. Learn more about the link between heavy precipitation and climate change.

What can you do to help?

C2ES works to help individuals learn how they can save energy at work, school, and home. Learn some of the steps you can take to make an impact:

  • Learn your personal carbon footprint. Your daily energy use has an impact on the environment. Find out how big it is by answering a few questions about where you live and how you use energy at home and on the go. Calculate your carboin footprint now.
  • Save electricity at home. Whether you own your home or rent, there are many ways you can reduce your impact on the planet – and your electricity bills. Learn how you can Make an Impact at home.
  • Be a smarter commuter. Emissions from transportation sources represent more than a quarter of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Small changes can help reduce our collective impact. Learn how you can Make an Impact on the move.
  • Use less water. Sustainable gardening techniques can not only produce thriving yards, but can also reduce your water bills, maintenance time, and keep yard waste out of landfills. Learn how you can Make an Impact in the yard.
  • Be a smarter shopper. Our choices as consumers affect our environment. From buying local produce to using energy-saving light bulbs, each of us has the power to make a difference. Learn how you can Make an Impact at the store.
  • Work sustainably. For many companies, reducing emissions helps both the environment and the bottom line. Learn how you can Make an Impact at work.

What would make a huge difference?

Sensible policies can spur demand for clean energy and technologies and reduce carbon emissions cost-effectively. Learn about some of the options:










Key Insights from a Solutions Forum on Driving Energy Efficiency with IT

Key Insights from a Solutions Forum on
Driving Energy Efficiency with IT

May 2015

By Jason Ye

Download the Key Insights (PDF)

Energy efficiency is a critical component of the proposed Clean Power Plan. It offers states a least-cost pathway for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. A C2ES Solutions Forum held May 18, 2015, brought together city, state, and business leaders to explore how intelligent efficiency can drive reduced energy usage and emissions under the rule.

Among the questions C2ES discussed at this event:

  • What is intelligent efficiency and how can it reduce costs and emissions?
  • Can intelligent efficiency also help with reliability?
  • What role will energy efficiency play in the Clean Power Plan?
  • What are some cities, states and businesses doing right?
  • What role can cities, states, and businesses play together in using energy efficiency to implement the Clean Power Plan?
  • What would help cities and states use energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan?
  • Why would a utility want to sell less of its product – electricity?

C2ES will continue the conversation with cities, states, and businesses to share insights and innovative ideas that will help us get to a clean energy future. Our third Solutions Forum on June 25 will explore innovative ways to finance clean energy technology and infrastructure.

For more information about the C2ES Solutions Forum, see:

Energy efficiency is a critical component of the proposed Clean Power Plan. It offers states a least-cost pathway for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. The second C2ES Solutions Forum—held May 18, 2015—brought together city and state officials and business leaders to explore the potential contributions from information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to drive energy efficiency under the proposed rule. This document summarizes the answers to some of the questions C2ES explored from this event.
Jason Ye

Energy efficiency will play a key role in the Clean Power Plan

A new C2ES study outlines the significant role energy efficiency is expected to play in reducing carbon emissions from power plants under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

Energy efficiency can be an attractive way for states to meet the plan’s targets because, in addition to being relatively inexpensive to deploy on its own, energy efficiency reduces the need to build new, costly power plants in the future.

C2ES examined six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the Clean Power Plan on the U.S. power mix and electricity prices. Despite starting with different assumptions, all of the studies project that energy efficiency will be the most used and least-cost option for states to implement the plan, and that overall electricity consumption will decline as a result.

The majority of the studies project either cost savings to power users under the Clean Power Plan or increases of less than $10 billion a year. That translates to less than $87 a year per household, or about 25 cents a day.

C2ES President Bob Perciasepe moderates a Solutions Forum panel with (l to r): Steve Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation; Alyssa Caddle, Principle Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, EMC; and Lars Kvale, Head of Business Development, APX Environmental Markets.

Our second Solutions Forum focused on how to spur more energy efficiency, especially through “intelligent efficiency” — a systems-based approach to energy management enabled through networked devices and sensors.

Carbon Pricing and Clean Power: A Solutions Forum

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
9 a..m-NoonCapitol View Conference Center101 Constitution Ave. NWNinth FloorWashington, DC 20001Watch video of Bob Perciasepe and state officials.Watch video of business leaders' discussion. 

States have an array of policy options to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. In the first of a three-part clean power series, C2ES brings together state leaders and industry experts to explore market-based approaches to efficiently and effectively implementing EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.

April 15, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Capitol View Conference Center
101 Constitution Ave. NW
Ninth Floor
Washington, DC 20001
(Doors open at 8:30 a.m.)

Watch video of Bob Perciasepe and state officials.

Watch video of business leaders' discussion.


Janet Coit
Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

David Paylor
Director, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Martha Rudolph
Director of Environmental Programs, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment


Skiles Boyd
Vice President, Environmental Management and Resources, DTE Energy

Erika Guerra
Government Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, Holcim (US) Inc.

Kevin Leahy
Director of Energy and Environmental Policy, Duke Energy

Katie Ott
Senior Manager, Federal Government Affairs, Exelon


Adele Morris
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Michael Wara
  Professor, Stanford Law School

Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Bob Perciasepe's remarks at the Energy Efficiency and IT Solutions Forum





MAY 18, 2015

I want to welcome everybody to today’s session. My name is Bob Perciasepe, and I’m president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, or C2ES. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together diverse interests to find solutions to our climate and energy challenges.

Today is a good example of what we try to do. We’re pleased we’re able to bring together a forward-thinking utility executive like Ralph Izzo from PSEG; leaders from innovative companies like Intel, EMC, NEST, and APX, and state and city pioneers in efficiency and sustainability from Illinois, Minnesota, and Philadelphia.

And we’re excited that the Energy Foundation and the Digital Energy and Sustainability Solutions Campaign, or DESSC, are helping sponsor some of this work.

We’re here to talk about energy efficiency and the key role it will play as cities and states look to reduce power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan.

Energy efficiency is a pretty simple thing to contemplate. Every one of us has probably done something in our lives to be more efficient. And yet when it comes to electricity, we still have significant gaps in our efficiency. We continue to waste more energy than we need to in this country and in the world.

We waste energy when we produce it, when we transmit it, and when we use it. It would be like going grocery shopping and leaving a bag of food at the store, throwing a couple of bags out the window as you’re driving home, and dropping a couple of bags on your front lawn. Then you get in the house and you’ve got one bag left. Now of course, that is an exaggeration, but it shows all along the way there’s loss.

When we waste energy, we waste money. If we save energy, we can save money and reduce our emissions. All of these impacts affect both our environment and our economy.

So, there are three things that I think we need to address. One is, energy efficiency should be a key strategy for reducing power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan both for economic purposes as well as environmental purposes. Second, information and communications technology can help us achieve energy efficiency and that’s going to be a key part of what we’re talking about today. And finally it’s going to take cities, states, and businesses working together to make this happen. That’s why we have the group of people we have today with us to talk about that.

The proposed EPA Clean Power Plan is something that’s on the front burner for a lot of states, cities and companies in the energy business. The plan sets targets for states to reduce power sector emissions, but gives them incredible flexibility in how to meet those targets. It’s clear that energy efficiency will be a key tool in the toolbox.

C2ES has a new report examining six economic modeling studies that project the likely impacts of the proposed plan. All of the models project that energy efficiency will be the most-used option to implement the Clean Power Plan -- because it’s the least-cost option. We could see an overall decline in the demand for electricity over time while maintaining our quality of life and all of the goals we have for the use of electricity.

Also, the majority of the studies we examined project either savings to power consumers or costs of less than $10 billion a year. To put that in context: That means implementing the Clean Power Plan would cost each household about 25 cents a day.

So, how do we get to this more energy-efficient future?

We have the technology – right now – that can help us be significantly more energy-efficient. We’re going to hear more today about intelligent efficiency. This is a systems-based approach looking at that drive back from the grocery store. How can you keep from leaving bags at the store or losing them while you’re driving home or forgetting them on the front lawn? How can technology and intelligent efficiency help, whether it’s networked devices, sensors, or smart grids? And how can we measure and verify that the energy savings efforts are credible?

Some estimate intelligent efficiency could help America cut energy use by nearly a quarter in just a few years. We’d be reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And we’d be throwing a lot fewer dollars out the window.

We looked at what the federal government can do by deploying more information and communication technologies across federal agencies, and we estimated the government could save more than $5 billion in energy costs.

Finally, if we have all of this great technology, why aren’t we using more of it?

We need the right policies, regulations, and incentives to integrate this technology and accelerate its deployment.

Cities, states and companies are going to be important in this whole arena. How do we bring together the businesses that are innovating in energy and efficiency with the cities and states that are implementing programs in those areas? It’s not self-implementing. It doesn’t just happen. There has to be way to get a larger penetration of these technologies.

Innovative partnerships and programs are going to be important going forward. Cities, states, and businesses can work together -- to promote energy efficiency, and help deploy the information technology that can make it cheaper, easier, and maybe even more fun to save energy.

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