Companies See Extreme Weather, Climate Change as Business Risk

Press Release

July 17, 2013

Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-516-0621

Companies See Extreme Weather, Climate Change as Growing Business Risk

WASHINGTON – Most major companies see extreme weather and other climate change impacts as current or near-term business risks, but lack the data and tools needed to effectively assess and manage these risks, according to a report released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

The report, Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change, provides a detailed snapshot of the state of resilience planning among a cross-section of global companies.

C2ES found that 90 percent of companies in the Standard and Poor’s Global 100 Index identify extreme weather and climate change as risks, and most have experienced climate impacts or expect to within 10 years. Top concerns include damage to facilities, loss of water or power supplies, higher costs, and disruption of supply and distribution chains.

Although most companies are well aware of these risks, relatively few are investing in resilience beyond "business as usual" because of a lack of information and tools to help them relate these risks to their specific business operations.

"Companies know how to navigate a changing business environment. Now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change leads to more extreme heat, drought and flooding," said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. "Many companies are asking whether they’ve entered a ‘new normal.’ They need help assessing and managing these rising risks to the bottom line.”

The report synthesizes the findings from a comprehensive review of public disclosures by S&P Global 100 companies, in-depth case studies of six companies, and a resilience workshop with business leaders from a wide range of industries. It examines how companies perceive their climate-related risks, the steps they are taking or plan to take, emerging best practices in building business resilience, and what's standing in the way.

“Weather-related disasters and other climate change impacts can affect a company’s supplies, production, distribution, and property. As extreme weather events become more frequent and intense, it’s vital for companies to have the right tools and accurate information so that they can assess and manage their risks,” said report co-author Meg Crawford.

Based on case studies of American Water, Bayer, The Hartford Group, National Grid, Rio Tinto and Weyerhaeuser, C2ES developed a four-step framework for managing climate risks and recommended other actions for overcoming obstacles to building broader business resilience.

Key Findings

  • Nearly all — 90 percent — of S&P Global 100 Index companies identify extreme weather and climate change as current or future business risks, across all industry sectors.
  • 62 percent say they are experiencing climate change impacts now, or expect to in the coming decade.
  • Companies are most concerned about the direct impacts of extreme weather on property, production and supplies, and indirect impacts on operational costs, such as higher prices for commodities or insurance.
  • Most companies are managing these risks through existing business continuity and emergency management plans. Only a few have used climate-specific tools to comprehensively assess risks.

Recommendations

  • Create a clearinghouse for reliable, up-to-date data and analytical tools. Companies need user-friendly, localized projections of climate changes and models that link projections to impacts germane to company operations.
  • Invest in public infrastructure resilience. Companies rely on public resources, including roads, bridges, and ports, to get their goods and services to market and need these resources to withstand extreme weather and climate impacts.
  • Consider resilience needs in regulation. Companies in regulated sectors, such as water, electricity, and insurance, need regulators to be forward-looking and open to companies making the case for more spending on resilience.
  • Set up voluntary, public-private partnerships. Bringing together government and business expertise will improve resilience planning.

Read the report at: http://www.c2es.org/initiatives/business-resilience

About C2ES

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.