climate resilience

Webinar: Helping Small Businesses Build Climate Resilience

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2 — 3 p.m., EDTWatch video

Photo of 2010 Annapolis, Maryland, flooding courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr.

Helping Small Businesses Build Climate Resilience

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m., EDT

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An extreme weather disaster can force some small businesses to close their doors forever. How can small businesses better evaluate, prepare for, and respond to the increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events that climate change brings? 

This free webinar will explore:

  • Risks small businesses face from climate and extreme weather
  • Challenges to making small businesses more climate resilient
  • Resources for small businesses
  • Recommendations for engaging small businesses on resilience

Speakers:

Charissa Cooper, Private Sector Liaison, National Capital Region Planner, Maryland Emergency Management Agency

Jon Philipsborn, Associate Vice President, Climate Adaptation Practice Director, Americas at AECOM

Katy Maher, Science Fellow and Resilience Project Coordinator, C2ES

 

Building sustainability from the ground up

L to R: Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director, The U.S. Conference of Mayors; Daniel A Zarrilli, Senior Director, Climate Policy and Programs, Chief Resilience Officer, New York City Office of the Mayor; Josh Sawislak, Global Director of Resilience, AECOM; Mayor Chris Bollwage, Elizabeth, NJ, Mayor Javier Gonzales, Santa Fe, NM; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, MD; Bob Perciasepe, President, C2ES.

 

Mayors know what’s going on in their communities. Businesses know how to get a good return on investment. So it seems like a natural fit to have them work together on innovative ways to finance clean energy, strengthen resilience to climate impacts, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To promote that collaboration, C2ES and The U.S. Conference of Mayors formed the Alliance for a Sustainable Future, which held its first public forum during Climate Week NYC.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, past president of the conference, told the gathering that cities are where the work is getting done when it comes to addressing climate change. “Nations talk about energy efficiency and climate action, but mayors are doing it every day,” she said.

At the same time, she noted, mayors need tools to get the job done. “We have to do more with less resources. We’re all in this together.”

That’s where business comes into the picture.

Josh Sawislak, global director of resilience for AECOM, a global engineering, consulting and project management company, said businesses want to get involved in building resilience, and they can do more on the local level.

He noted, however, that there needs to be a sound business case for clean energy investments, and for small businesses, the return on investment needs to be immediate.

“Climate change is costing us money. Not investing in these things is costing us money. We’re not doing the math right,” he said.

Some cities are already taking an innovative approach to bridging the gap between the two interests.

Santa Fe, NM, Mayor Javier Gonzales, the alliance’s chairman, explained how his city’s new Verde Fund taps into community needs and business expertise to help low-income residents access clean energy. “More well-to-do people can navigate complicated systems to get rooftop solar on your house,” he said. “The Verde Fund helps disadvantaged residents do the same.”

When low-income residents can save money on their electricity bills by going solar, he said, they have more money to spend on food, clothing and other essentials. The jobs created by these projects benefit the community as well.

Elizabeth, NJ, Mayor Chris Bollwage, whose city’s vulnerability to climate impacts was exposed during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, said some visionary leadership is also needed to imagine today what will be needed tomorrow.

“When we built Elizabeth’s midtown parking garage, we put in five spaces for electric vehicle charging,” he said. “No one used them the first two years, but now three cars are charging there every day.”

In New York City, officials are being proactive in other ways, like working through the city’s OneNYC plan to reduce energy use in buildings, the source of 70 percent of the city’s emissions. Daniel Zarelli, Mayor Bill de Blasio's senior director of climate and sustainability policies and chief resilience officer, said the city’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 30 percent by 2025 and to retrofit one million buildings so they’re energy efficient.

All the panelists agreed that federal, state, and local policy must become aligned to move in the right direction. One way to do that is by citizens letting both their government and business leaders know that they value sustainability.

We need to prepare for more downpours

When rain comes all at once, the impacts can be devastating, and deadly.Army National Guard Photo of Louisiana Flood Rescue

  • Two feet of rain – that is about four months’ worth – fell in parts of Louisiana over the past few days, forcing thousands to flee their homes as water rose to the rooftops. More than a dozen people have died in the flooding.
  • On July 30, nearly six inches of rain fell in two hours in Ellicott City, Md., turning Main Street into a raging river that swept away cars, tore up storefronts, and killed two people.
  • About a month earlier, up to 10 inches of rain fell in 12 hours in parts of West Virginia, causing flooding that killed 26.

Heavy downpours are expected to become more frequent in a warming world. That’s because warmer air can hold more water vapor. For each degree of warming, the air’s capacity to hold water vapor goes up by about 7 percent. An atmosphere with more moisture can produce more intense precipitation, which is what we’ve been seeing.  

Heavy downpours increased 71 percent in the Northeast and 27 percent in the Southeast between 1958 and 2012, according to the National Climate Assessment.

Last year, flash and river floods killed 176 people in the United States, more than for any other weather-related disaster.

Better infrastructure -- both “green,” like using soil and vegetation to absorb rainfall, and “gray,” using manmade materials for pipes and walls -- can give the water someplace to go other than into homes and businesses.

In urban areas, where concrete and asphalt have replaced water-absorbing soils, rain gardens and porous pavements can reduce the amount of storm water pouring through the streets, or overwhelming water treatment plants.

In other areas, more extensive storm protection infrastructure, like flood walls and storm water storage and pumping facilities, may be needed. Nashville is considering building a $110 million flood wall and pumping system after flooding in May 2010 killed 11 and caused more than $2 billion in private property damage. After initially blocking the plan, the council this summer authorized completing designs and seeking community input.

Green and gray infrastructure can even be combined. Cities like Philadelphia and Hoboken, N.J., are topping underground storm water storage tanks with recreational fields for the community.

Flood protection is costly, but so is flood cleanup. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates four severe floods – in Texas and Oklahoma in May 2015, South Carolina in October 2015, Texas and Louisiana in March 2016, and Houston in April 2016 – caused an estimated $7 billion in damages and killed 69 people.

More frequent and intense downpours are one of the impacts we can expect from climate change. Cities, states and businesses will need to work together to strengthen infrastructure and protect properties and lives.

Building Climate Resilience

Building Climate Resilience

Extreme weather and other climate-related impacts are becoming more frequent, and are imposing real costs on communities and companies. Companies have always navigated a changing business environment. But now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change affects their facilities and operations, supply and distribution chains, electricity and water, and employees and customers.

A new 2015 C2ES Report, Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience, examines how companies are preparing for climate risks and what is keeping them from doing more. It also suggests strategies for companies and cities to collaborate to strengthen climate resilience.

 

The new report synthesizes public disclosures by S&P Global 100 companies, in-depth interviews and case studies, and workshops. It updates the groundbreaking 2013 report, Weathering the Storm, Building Business Resilience to Climate Change, which provided a baseline for how companies were assessing their climate vulnerabilities.

Click above to see our Weathering the Next Storm  infographic, with key takeaways

Key Findings

  • Most major companies recognize and report climate risks. Ninety-one percent of companies in the S&P Global 100 Index see extreme weather and climate change impacts as current or future risks to their business.
  • Companies worry about climate impacts beyond their facilities. Almost all companies interviewed expressed concern about impacts to their supply chains and public infrastructure.
  • There isn’t one right way to assess and manage climate risks. Many companies view climate change as a “threat multiplier” that exacerbates existing risks. This puts climate change into a familiar context, but could cause companies to overlook or underestimate the threats they face.
  • Companies struggle to translate long-term, global climate data into short-term, local risks. Despite growing access to climate-related data and tools, companies say they need “actionable science” that helps them understand locally-specific risks or risk scenarios.

C2ES Recommendations

  • Companies can start with a limited-scope vulnerability assessment – focusing, for example, on the most critical parts of the business – to raise internal awareness of climate risks.
  • Companies should facilitate regular communication across departments involved in climate risk and resilience -- including sustainability, risk management, operations, and finance – and consider whether to change planning horizons to better incorporate climate risks.
  • Companies, state and city governments, non-profits and local experts should explore partnerships to analyze data, evaluate climate risks, undertake cost-benefit studies, and implement resilience planning.
  • Governments should look for ways to streamline climate risk reporting and provide more guidance on how to incorporate climate risks into financial disclosures.
  • Governments should improve public infrastructure and provide opportunities for the private sector to contribute to resilience planning efforts and investments.

Additional Resources:

Video: Webinar for California’s Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, December 2, 2015

Video of our report launch

 

Building Resilience to Climate Change -- Why it's Crucial

 

Panel: Taking Business Resilience to the Next Level

C2ES Events at the Climate Leadership Conference

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Emerging Best Practices for Identifying Climate Risk and Increasing Resilience8:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.Climate Solutions: The Role of Innovative Partnerships10:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Hear from Leaders in Climate and Energy Innovation

Leaders from business, government, academia and nonprofits will share best practices to address climate change through policy and business solutions at the 2015 Climate Leadership Conference Feb. 23-25, 2015, in Washington, DC.

The Climate Leadership Conference is hosted by The Climate Registry, the Association of Climate Change Officers, and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). The Environmental Protection Agency is the headline sponsor.

C2ES is hosting two workshops at the conference.

Conference registration is required to attend the workshops. Register Here

Emerging Best Practices for Identifying Climate Risk and Increasing Resilience

Monday, February 23, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

This workshop will be a knowledge exchange seminar built around discussions on climate-related risks and opportunities for private sector businesses. Discussions will explore strategies companies are using to prioritize and plan; data and tools they use to understand their vulnerabilities and opportunities; key barriers that impede resilience planning; and the partnerships that allow companies to interact with public sector decision-makers that are also building resilience.

Conference Registration Required. Register Here

Speakers:

Chris Benjamin, Director, Corporate Sustainability, PG&E

Robert Kopp, Associate Professor, Rutgers University

Emilie Mazzacurati, Founder and CEO, Four Twenty Seven, Inc.

Moderators:

Janet Peace,Vice President, Markets and Business Strategy, C2ES

Joe Casola, Program Director, Science and Impacts, C2ES

 

Climate Solutions: The Role of Innovative Partnerships

Monday, February 23, 10:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

This workshop examines ways organizations are working collaboratively on leading-edge climate initiatives, such as greenhouse gas reduction goals and adaptation strategies that go above and beyond the business-as-usual approaches. We know that cross-sector collaboration makes more of an impact than what might be achieved alone. The session will showcase transformational partnerships that produce robust results, innovative solutions and scalability. Participants will be invited to share their own perspectives and explore where new partnerships may be needed.

Conference Registration Required. Register Here

Speakers:

Keith Canfield, Director, Corporate Sustainability Programs, Clinton Climate Initiative

Laura Engeman, Manager, San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative

David Tulauskas, Director, Sustainability, General Motors Company

Moderator: 

Katie Mandes, Vice President, Community Engagement, C2ES

 

Climate Resilience Toolkit is important resource

Anyone who needs to plan for future risks -- whether a city manager, a state official, or a business leader -- needs good information that’s easy to find and easy to use. The federal government took an important step to help managers plan for the impacts of climate change with the release this month of the Climate Resilience Toolkit.

This new online portal offers a wide range of resources and interactives that consolidate some of the “greatest hits” from federal climate data sets, guidance for resilience planning, and examples of resilience projects.

The toolkit is likely to be especially helpful for communities and businesses in the early stages of resilience planning, or for individuals who want to know more about managing climate risks. I took a spin through the toolkit’s resources and here’s my take on some of its components.

Process

The toolkit promotes a five-step process for building resilience: Identify the Problem, Determine Vulnerabilities, Investigate Options, Evaluate Risks and Costs, and Take Action.


The Climate Resilience Toolkit’s five-step process for building resilience.

Business Resilience Webinar Series

 

C2ES held a series of free webinars from September-December 2013 to explore the case studies cited in our report, "Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change." Explore slides and video below.

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