IPCC report Confirms What Businesses Already Know: Extreme Weather & Climate Affect Investors, Insurance, Agriculture, Other Industries

Nov 18, 2011 11:45 AM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Boston, MA - November 18, 2011 - In the wake of a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on extreme weather and climate change, business leaders today discussed the growing impacts of extreme weather on their companies and customers, and actions that are needed to respond if climate patterns continue. 

Representatives from the insurance, investor, agriculture and property management sectors echoed many of the key findings in the IPCC report issued earlier today in Uganda. They called for more disaster risk preparedness actions, as extreme weather trends – such as more pronounced heat, drought and heavy precipitation events – are expected to worsen.   “The IPCC report underscores the ripples climate change is already having on the global economy and the importance of innovative business solutions and aggressive government policies to manage this escalating threat,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber, whose group hosted today’s news conference.   Deutsche Asset Management was one of 285 investors representing more than $20 trillion in assets that signed on to a statement last month stressing the urgency for stronger government policies to stimulate investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other technologies that will lower global carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change. The new IPCC report underscores its call to action.   "The IPCC report is further confirmation for investors not just of the reality of climate change but of the urgent need to hedge against the growing risk of devastating climate events in many parts of the world,” said Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Asset Management. “This is becoming easier to do thanks to the increasing availability of more sophisticated analytical tools and strategies to enable investors to take action. The key now is to raise investor awareness of the problem, which this report will certainly help to do."
   The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is also creating challenges for real estate property managers.   "The real estate industry has long been focused on reducing the impact of buildings on the environment through energy use and resulting carbon emissions,” said Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainable services at Jones Lang LaSalle, which manages properties across the U.S and the world. “Now we’re seeing the need to focus on the environment’s impact on buildings due to the physical ripples of climate change. More than ever before, weather events and other climate-related factors are beginning to impact real estate location and design decisions."   In the insurance industry, there is broad consensus that climate change will mean more extreme weather events. Representatives from Swiss Re – one of the world’s largest reinsurers – and The Climate Corporation, a leader in weather insurance for agriculture, stressed the importance of managing risk that results from extreme weather and climate change. They also discussed the insurance industry’s role in taking steps to help businesses and people adapt.   “The human and economic costs of severe weather are escalating and the IPCC report is another important reminder of the need to reverse this trend,” said Mark Way, Swiss Re’s Head Sustainability Americas Hub. “Swiss Re believes that effective adaptation measures can significantly improve society's resilience to climate risk and insurance has an important role to play in this regard.”   Way said his company has been engaged for more than 20 years in addressing climate change. Recent initiatives have focused on developing countries and the need to expand access to insurance products to protect the most vulnerable communities from the impact of climate risk.   David Friedberg, founder and CEO of The Climate Corporation, outlined the way state-of-the-art weather data and advanced technology helps farmers in the U.S. protect their livelihoods from changing climate conditions. His company offers automated weather insurance to buffer farmers from the financial impact of key weather perils, including excess rain, drought, heat and freeze.   “Our customers tell us that the weather on their farms is more extreme and less predictable than it was even five or ten years ago,” Friedberg said. “Weather is the primary operational risk that farmers cannot control, and it’s vital to the security of the global food supply that agricultural producers have solutions available to them that mitigate their financial exposure to increasingly extreme weather.”   About Ceres Ceres is a coalition of investors and pubic interest organizations working with companies to address climate change and other sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets of $10 trillion focused on the business impacts of climate change. For more information visit www.ceres.org or www.incr.com