The Realities of Climate Change – A Business’ Wake-Up Call

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – July 29, 2013 – Comment

Extreme weather and climate change has been identified as a category of future business risk by ninety percent of S&P Global 100 Index companies. In fact, 62 percent say they are experiencing climate change impacts now or expect them in the coming decade. But these same companies also note that they lack the data and tools needed to effectively assess and manage these risks for their specific business operations, according to Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change, a report released by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

C2ES is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change that was launched as the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Based on case studies from 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 companies to address this growing issue.

Recently, our CEO Jeff Sterba participated in a livestream video panel at the report launch, where among other things, he discussed our work at American Water to mitigate climate change perils. Covering efforts including; risk assessment through engineering planning studies, risk management through prudent investment into systems, integrated water resource management and the use of innovation technology, the recommendations for organizations that came out of the report are as follows:

  • Create a clearinghouse for reliable, up-to-date data and analytical tools. Be sure your systems are user-friendly, give climate change projections specific to your geographic region and relate directly to what you need to know to protect your company’s operations.
  • Invest in public infrastructure. You rely on public resources – roads, bridges, ports, etc. – to get your goods and services to market and need these resources to withstand extreme weather and climate impacts.
  • Consider resilience needs in regulation. If your company is in a regulated sector – such as water, electricity, or insurance – encourage regulators to be forward-looking and open to suggestions for more spending on protection from severe weather.
  • Set up voluntary, public-private partnerships. Bringing together government and business expertise will improve planning.

You can read the full report here. As Mark Twain once said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” What are some of the ways your company is trying to change that?