All posts tagged cop21

The Paris climate agreement is ratified – What does this mean for businesses?

CEO in jail

On the heels of the entry into force of the historic Paris agreement on climate change, a legal opinion declares that directors who don’t properly consider the material impacts of climate change on their business risk personal liability for breach of duty. With this, business leaders are inexorably confronted with the need to consider climate change and sustainability risks for their companies, and to price, mitigate, and manage them accordingly. Is your business ready to bring climate change and sustainability to the board?

This past month the world celebrated the ratification of the historic Paris climate change agreement, years sooner than expected, particularly given that is the single largest piece of climate change legislation ever enacted. The agreement, signed by 196 attending parties, achieves a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. It was the outcome of the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015.

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The winners and losers of El Niño

ski

As 2015 wound to a close, it was assigned to the record books as the world’s warmest year. Of course, global warming is widely considered to be at play, but meteorologists are particularly interested in the strength of this year’s El Niño, which has exacerbated droughts in some areas, increased floods in others, and led to an unusually mild winter in North America and Europe. The effects of this unusually warm winter on the world economy are representative of the diverse financial consequences of El Niño and of climate variability generally, with weather being blamed for increased production costs, reduced revenues, and reduced GDPs. The question for each of these companies is whether they were prepared for El Niño and integrated weather risk management into their development strategies.

Exploring the El Niño phenomenon

El Niño is well known as a cyclical phenomenon that occurs about once or twice per decade that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America. During the summer period, it increases the risk of decreased rainfall in the Eastern Pacific (India, Indonesia and in the northern part of Australia), and conversely, it rains more in the southern United States and on the west coast of South America. In winter, when El Niño peaks, temperatures are abnormally high in North America and Europe, and there is more intense storm activity in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also accompanied by intense rains. El Niño leads to a significant increase in the number, duration and intensity of weather anomalies around the world.

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Storm in a teacup

flood UK dec. 2015

It’s being called the “great flood of 2015”, as Britain has been pummelled by seven storms this winter, including Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank. Further, emergency services and volunteers have been working around the clock to deal with the immense damage caused by the opening of a barrier on the River Foss on Boxing Day for a four-day period, flooding a large swath of York, in a controversial attempt to stop the flood spread caused by the downpour. In total, more than 180 flood warning and flood alerts are now in place across the UK and 27 “danger to live” warnings are in effect across central and norther England and Wales.[1]www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/uk-weather-nasa-satellite-image-7085048

Along with the floodgates, many questions have been raised as a result of the catastrophic financial consequences of the storms of this winter regarding the state of preparedness of the UK’s public and private sector in responding to climate change today. They concern not just how the flood defences are inadequate to handle the “new normal” of more severe and frequent extreme weather events facing the UK, but how risk management solutions such as flood insurance are failing the public as the full extent of the total uninsurable losses, and the slowness in getting EU and national grants and insurance payments to those in imminent need, is revealed. They both point to the need to explore what financial solutions are available to enable the UK to mitigate climate risk and buy time in the short term while investing in the environmental solutions that scientists have already identified as necessary to reduce climate change in the long-term (eg. replacing the use of fossil fuels with renewables and restocking carbon sinks).

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Ranking UK retail sectors

london1

A new white paper has been released today by Meteo Protect demonstrating the importance of unseasonal weather on the sales performance of UK retailers, and the growing need to actively manage its financial consequences. The extent to which retail companies are exposed to climate variability is likely to be an eye-opener for many banks, regulators, analysts and investors. As climate variability is increasing, the risk to which they are exposed requires urgent action.

The research report thoroughly investigates the relationship between monthly sales and climate variability. For the first time, for each season, retail sectors are ranked according to their sensitivity to temperature, precipitation, humidity rate and wind speed.
The authors provide retail managers with a methodology to calculate the contribution of weather to sales performance and to evaluate sales at risk caused by climate variability. They also provide analysts with rankings that classify retail sectors according to their sensitivity to climate variability.

To mitigate the exposure to climate risks, the idea that geographical diversification is a natural efficient hedge is wrong, and the scientific evidence exposed in this report is unequivocal. Climate variability is a risk that needs to be managed like any other financial risk. One way to become more resilient to climate risks is to use weather-index products that are designed to pay in case of unfavorable weather. If companies are resilient to climate variability on an on-going basis, they will, by definition, become resilient to climate change.

The contribution of this research paper is of course not limited to the UK as the methodology is reproducible to other countries and sectors. A must-read for finance executives and business managers ahead of COP21.

Download the White Paper