Climate Compass Blog
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 Resilience, released 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.
The federal Clean Power Plan gives each state the flexibility to use its own ideas on how best to reduce greenhouse gases from the power sector. One proven, cost-effective approach is to use market forces to drive innovation and efficiency.
The options available to states go beyond creating or joining a cap-and-trade program or instituting a carbon tax. Pieces can be put in place, such as common definitions, measurement and verification processes, so that states or companies could be in a position to trade within their state or across borders. Modest programs that allow companies to trade carbon credits could be explored.
In an op-ed published in The Hill, Anthony Earley, CEO of California energy company PG&E, and C2ES President Bob Perciasepe urge states to give these options serious thought.
Read The Hill op-ed.
July 2015 was a month like no other.
The three agencies with the most extensive global temperature records dating back more than 100 years, NOAA, NASA, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), all recently published data indicating July 2015 was not only the warmest July on record, but the warmest month ever recorded.
How warm was it?
According to NOAA, July 2015 was 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F).
This may not sound like much, but July is only one in a string of recent months that have been warmer than usual. The average global temperature for February, March, May, and June all broke their respective records. January was the second warmest January on record, April the third warmest.
Negotiations toward a new global climate agreement resume Monday in Bonn amid growing concern that time is running short – the agreement is due this December in Paris – and that the remaining task is monumental.
Indeed, while the new text negotiators will be working from is a bit more coherent than the last one, it is still a very long way from something countries could sign on to in Paris. Parties hopefully will make progress this week narrowing options and will task the co-chairs with producing a much more streamlined text for the next meeting in October.
The state of the text, though, may not the best measure of the state of the negotiations. The tedious slog of the formal sessions in Bonn may be what’s most visible. But countries are spending even more time talking in other, less formal settings, at multiple levels. And the conversations there are considerably more encouraging.
One example is C2ES’s Toward 2015 dialogue, which brought together senior negotiators from China, the United States and 20 other European, Asian, Latin American and African countries for eight in-depth discussions over 15 months. A final report last month from dialogue co-chairs Valli Moosa and Harald Dovland outlines key elements of a Paris deal.
The wildfires ravaging the Western United States are among the most damaging on record, and the season isn’t over yet. For those who have been following the region’s changing climate patterns, however, the damage is hardly surprising, and this could be only the beginning.
So far this year, 41,000 fires have burned 7.5 million acres of forests and grasslands across the United States. Only nine years have seen more acres burned in total than have already burned this year. The record is 9.8 million acres in 2006.
In Alaska, the 2015 wildfire season will likely go down as the second-biggest on record. More than 5.1 million acres – or 8,000 square miles – have burned so far this year. The most damaging – 6.6 million acres – occurred in 2004. Although this was an extreme fire season, the state was fortunate that the weather eventually cooperated. By mid-July, the fires had already charred 4.5 million acres, or 88 percent of the total.
The fires that plagued central Alaska during the late spring and early summer months are now mostly under control, as the dry summer heat gives way to cooler and wetter weather. The persistent ridge of high pressure has broken down as waves of moisture now stream in from the surrounding waters – the annual sign that autumn is quickly approaching.
As the fires die out in Alaska, the attention now turns to the lower 48. What was a sporadic, yet manageable, start to the fire season has now turned into conflagration of tragic proportions.