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Companies face hurdles to address climate risks

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A growing number of major global companies are assessing the risks posed by climate change, but many still struggle to translate climate data into actions to improve resilience, according to a new report by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

“Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience,” released yesterday at Climate Week NYC, examines how companies are preparing for climate risks and what is keeping them from doing more. C2ES also suggests companies and cities collaborate to strengthen climate resilience

Most major companies – 91 of the 100 in the Standard and Poor’s Global 100 Index – recognize climate risks to their business. A growing number – at least 39 percent – are conducting vulnerability assessments, and 30 percent use climate-specific models, according to the report.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all method to assess climate risks, and companies struggle to connect the dots between global data projecting long-term impacts and location-specific, short-term business decisions.

“Governments and companies must take action to reduce the emissions contributing to climate change,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “But climate change is already imposing real costs on companies and communities, and they’ll need to work together to increase resilience.”

“Climate impacts – rising sea level, more frequent and intense heat waves, flooding and drought, and other extreme weather events – affect a company’s facilities, operations, supply and distribution chains, employees and customers,’’ said report co-author Katy Maher. “Many companies are taking steps to better understand their risks, but they face challenges to building climate resilience.”

The report synthesizes findings from public disclosures by S&P Global 100 companies, in-depth interviews with more than 50 companies, and workshops with business leaders, government officials, academics and other stakeholders. It expands on a 2013 C2ES report that provided a baseline for how companies were assessing their climate vulnerabilities. Funding for the multi-year C2ES research initiative on business resilience is provided by Bank of America.

The report was released at a Climate Week NYC event featuring Amy Luers, assistant director of climate resilience and information at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Alex Liftman, Bank of America’s global environmental executive; Roberta Barbieri, global environmental director for Diageo; Jay Bruns, vice president of public policy at The Hartford; and Melissa Lavinson, corporate sustainability officer for PG&E.

Key Findings

Most major companies recognize and report climate risks.

Ninety-one of the 100 companies in the S&P Global 100 Index see extreme weather and climate change impacts as current or future risks to their business. Most of the companies (84) discuss climate risk concerns in CDP questionnaires. Fewer companies do so in their sustainability reports (47) or financial filings (40), but reporting has increased slightly since 2013.

Companies worry about climate impacts beyond their facilities.
Almost all companies interviewed expressed concern about impacts to their supply chains. As one company noted, “You are only as resilient as your weakest link, so it is important to identify where that link is.” They also worry about public roads and other infrastructure, and access to electricity and water.

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 threats. Some companies examine risks across their enterprise, while others focus on specific facilities, regions, or threats – such as climate impacts on water supply, which was a key concern.

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. They also struggle to incorporate long-term climate risks into short-term business decisions.

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, do cost-benefit studies, and implement resilience planning.

– Not all companies report climate risk and the degree of detail varies significantly among those that do. 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.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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