Weathering the Next Storm: A Closer Look at Business Resilience

Increases in extreme weather and other climate-related impacts are imposing significant costs on society. A growing number of companies are recognizing extreme weather and climate change as present or future business risks. For many companies, these rising risks extend well beyond the “fence line” to critical supply chains and infrastructure, and can be effectively managed only in partnership with the public sector. In 2013, C2ES released Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change, which examined how companies listed in the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global 100 Index were approaching climate risks. This report provides an update and takes a closer look at how companies are preparing for climate change and what is keeping them from doing more.The report is based on several lines of research:

  • A comprehensive review of the perspectives and activities of S&P Global 100 companies, based on their reporting to CDP and their corporate sustainability reports and annual financial filings;
  • Interviews with company representatives to gather more detailed information on whether and how companies are assessing climate risks and what barriers are keeping them from doing more; and
  • Dialogues conducted with companies, federal and local government agencies, academics, and other stakeholders through several workshops and events focused on business resilience.

These sources provide an in-depth look at the state of climate risk assessment and resilience planning within the business community. While some companies have taken steps to assess risks and prepare their business for future climate changes, many companies face various internal and external challenges that hinder efforts toward greater climate resilience. This report identifies various approaches companies are using to address climate risks, examines challenges companies face in managing and reporting risks, and suggests strategies to overcome these challenges and strengthen climate risk management within the private sector.

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Science Summary: Heat wave in Phalodi, India, 19 May 2016

On Thursday 19 May 2016, India experienced an all-time record high temperature for any calendar day. The high temperature reached 51°C in the city of Phalodi in the Jodhpur district of the state of Rajasthan. By some accounts it was the third-highest temperature ever documented globally. It was so hot that many residents of this city of about 50,000 simply remained indoors. Those who did venture outside in Gujarat’s Valsad found their sandals sticking to molten roads.

Temperatures were high across much of Rajasthan on that day, with a majority of stations recording maximum temperatures above 46°C. The state capital of Jaipur saw its hottest day in the past 11 years, with a maximum temperature of 46.5°C, while Delhi, India’s capital, reached 46.8°C.

The Raising Risk Awareness Project – delivered by CDKN with the World Weather Attribution initiative – undertook an analysis of whether human-induced climate change had contributed to the heat wave event – to inform decision-makers whether such  heat waves are more likely to happen in the future. The analysis found that:

  • Consistent with human-caused climate change, annual mean temperatures across India are increasing.
  • Heat waves in a relatively small area of India are becoming more frequent and more intense, but this is not true for most of the country.
  • On 19 May 2016, the city of Phalodi in Rajasthan set an all-time record for any calendar day, hitting 51°C.
  • This analysis used peer-reviewed methods to see if climate change is affecting the risk of record heat like that on 19 May 2016 in north-western India, and like that of a similar one-day heat event in Andhra Pradesh in May 2015.
  • The analysis did not find that human-induced climate change played a role in these individual heat waves. This runs counter to studies done on similar extreme heat events in other parts of the world.
  • The lack of a detectable climate change trend may be due to the masking effect of aerosols on warming, and on irrigation use.

The State of Climate-­Informed Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) is a science-based, collaborative process used to sustainably manage resources, interests, and activities among diverse coastal and ocean users and sectors. Climate change is affecting marine and coastal ecosystems throughout the world, manifesting in warming air and sea temperatures, increasing coastal storms, and rising sea levels. The existing and projected impacts of climate change and ocean acidification need to be incorporated into planning processes to ensure long-term success. Because CMSP is an emerging field, it is important to look to other coastal and marine planning and management frameworks to identify opportunities for climate-informed action.

With the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, EcoAdapt created the Climate-Informed CMSP Initiative to examine the connections between climate change and coastal and marine planning. This included conducting a needs assessment survey to identify what practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into their planning efforts, as well as research into the state of climate-informed CMSP efforts with the intention of identifying case study examples of adaptation in action. Our key research questions included:

  1. How is climate change currently being integrated into CMSP-related efforts?
  2. How can climate-informed CMSP be done?
  3. What do practitioners need in order to integrate climate change into CMSP?

Climate Change Hits Home: Adaptation Strategies for the San Francisco Bay Area

We have known about the perils of climate change for more than two decades. But global efforts to slow it down by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions have largely failed. Even if we could stop producing greenhouse gases tomorrow, the high concentration of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere will cause the climate to continue to change. As a result we must not only intensify our efforts to reduce climate change but start preparing for its inevitable effects.

In this report, SPUR addresses how we should adapt to climate change in the Bay Area, including which tools and strategies will make us resilient to its most severe impacts, including drought, higher temperatures and sea level rise. We recommend more than 30 strategies for local and regional agencies to begin minimizing the region’s vulnerabilities to these long-term but potentially catastrophic effects.

Port of Long Beach Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Resiliency Plan (CRP)

The Port of Long Beach (Port) developed a Climate Adaptation and Coastal Resiliency Plan (CRP) to manage the direct and indirect risks associated with climate change and coastal hazards. The CRP provides a framework for the Port to incorporate adaptive measures related to projected climate change into its policymaking and planning processes, construction practices, infrastructure design, and environmental documents.

The Port is an important economic engine for Southern California and the nation and a critical gateway to global trade. The CRP recommends near-term solutions for protecting the Port’s most vulnerable areas and long-term strategies that can assist the Port in maintaining business continuity across its infrastructure and operations into the next century.

The CRP includes a review of the best available climate science, an inventory of Port assets, and detailed sea level and storm surge inundation mapping. Together, these data sets informed the development of vulnerability profiles for the Port’s infrastructure, transportation networks, critical buildings, and utilities. A broad suite of potential adaptation strategies was developed to reduce the Port’s vulnerabilities. A collaborative process was used to select a subset of these strategies for further refinement.

2010 California Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) are required to adopt and submit an updated Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) to the California Transportation Commission (Commission) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) every four or five years depending on air quality attainment within the region. Regional transportation improvement projects proposed to be funded, in whole or in part, in the State Transportation Improvement Program must be included in an adopted RTP.

The Commission is authorized under statute to prescribe study areas for analysis and evaluation by regional transportation agencies and guidelines for the preparation of RTPs. The Commission, in consultation with Caltrans and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is also required to maintain guidelines for travel demand models used in the development of RTPs by MPOs.

On April 7, 2010, the Commission adopted revisions to the RTP Guidelines . The revisions were prepared through the work of an Advisory Committee representing MPOs, RTPAs, federal, state and local governments, organizations knowledgeable in the creation and use of travel demand models, and organizations concerned with the impacts of transportation investments on communities and the environment. The Commission appreciates the members of the Advisory Committee for their dedication to develop guidelines that promote the successful implementation of statutory requirements as well as consistency through an integrated, statewide approach to the transportation planning process.

The guidelines reflect recent revisions to address the planning requirements of Senate Bill (SB) 375 (SB 375, Steinberg, Statutes of 2008) and other planning practices. SB 375 targets regional greenhouse gas emission reductions from passenger vehicles and light duty trucks through changes in land use and transportation development patterns. To achieve these changes, the law encourages MPOs to think differently about how communities are designed. As a result, MPOs, in partnership with local governments, are now required to develop a sustainable communities strategy as part of the transportation planning process for inclusion in the RTP. The sustainable communities strategy should demonstrate the land use and transportation measures that will be used to meet the region's greenhouse gas emission reduction target established by ARB. The inclusion of the sustainable communities strategy as a part of the RTP represents a significant change to an MPOs traditional transportation planning process by adding the strategy as a new element and requiring internal consistency among all elements of the RTP.

In addition to addressing SB 375, the guidelines set forth a uniform transportation planning framework throughout the state that identifies federal and state requirements for the development of RTPs. However, the guidelines are intended to provide flexibility and options for transportation decision makers recognizing geographic diversity and complexity. The development of sustainable communities strategies in the planning process is a critical step to a better future. The Commission will continue to utilize whatever resources are available to us to help the regions develop transportation investments consistent with these strategies.

The Garden State in the Greenhouse: Climate Change Mitigation and Coastal Adaptation Strategies for New Jersey

Climate change poses a significant threat to New Jersey’s economic, social and environmental future. In the absence of federal leadership, states must take the lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and increasingly frequent and damaging storms.

New Jersey has already taken many important steps toward a responsible climate change policy, such as the Governor’s recent appointment of a Director of Energy Savings. However, the scale of the problem and its potential consequences for the state mean that more and bolder steps are required to preserve the quality of life in New Jersey now and in the future.

This report outlines a strategy for moving toward an adequate response to climate change while at the same time advancing the State’s economic growth. New Jersey should enact innovative strategies that will not only reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect its coastline, but will also bring new industries, technologies and jobs to the state. To accomplish this, the State should take action in six major areas:

1. Establish New Jersey’s regional and national leadership on climate change by:

  • Announcing and implementing a mandatory 2020 GHG emissions cap and an ambitious 2050 emissions reduction target through an economy-wide cap-and-trade system, enhanced efficiency measures and incorporation of emission reduction goals into State planning, purchasing and other activities;
  • Creating a Climate Change Division within the Office of Economic Growth to direct all emissions reduction and adaptation research in collaboration with a high-level inter-agency task force and with input from a stakeholder advisory council; and
  • Launching and leading a network of “Cool States” committed to reducing emissions based on legally binding caps and hosting a TransAtlantic summit on climate change that would bring together policy-makers, business leaders and clean energy technology innovators from Europe, Canada, and the US to exchange best practices, promote technological advances and showcase investment and business opportunities.

​2. Link climate change policies to economic growth and workforce development by:

  • Capitalizing on New Jersey’s competitive advantages in high-tech businesses to cultivate a clean energy sector through an explicit focus on clean energy businesses at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) as well as the State’s innovation funds and incubators;
  • Creating a “green jobs” track within the State’s community college vocational training system and working with non-profit organizations and trade unions to link residents in high-unemployment areas to training and placement in green building construction, installation and maintenance of energy-efficient and renewable energy equipment and auto-mechanic services for hybrid and plug-in vehicles; and
  • Increasing demand for clean and green jobs through the strategic use of State incentives; and
  • Establish a “Green Gold” pilot program in the city of Newark that would lower the energy costs of residents and businesses, support green building standards in new construction, and train and place under- and unemployed workers in green construction, installation and maintenance jobs in the city and regionally.

3. Boost energy efficiency gains through:

  • An energy use surcharge balanced by a reduction in corporate payroll tax for state businesses;
  • Enhanced incentives for residents to purchase energy-efficient equipment;
  • Demand-Side Management to align incentives of energy distributors with efficiency rather than sales; and
  • Increased funding (through auctioning 100 percent of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative emissions allowances) and improved targeting of funds in the State’s Clean Energy Program for cost-effective emissions reduction.

4. Make transportation more efficient and make development smarter by:

  • Making reductions in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) an explicit goal of State planning documents and more aggressively promoting transit-oriented planning and development; and
  • Promoting alternative fuels and encouraging increased fuel efficiency standards, starting with the State’s vehicle fleet and vehicles used by local governments and schools.

5. Improve State preparedness for sea level rise and increased frequency & intensity of storms by:

  • Producing vulnerability assessments and cost-benefit reports evaluating the impact of climate change on the coasts and incorporating the findings into NJDEP rules and State and local planning, land use and public investment decisions;
  • Ensuring that emergency management plans account for projections about rising sea levels and storms;
  • Enhancing pre-storm planning for post-storm management, including strategic land preservation and guidelines for whether, where and how to rebuild following storm damage; and
  • Partnering with the insurance industry to shield coastal residents from catastrophic losses.

6. Increase Public Awareness about Climate Change Impacts and Support for State Action by:

  • Creating a statewide awareness campaign that includes a user-friendly website and advertisements in print and broadcast media; and
  • Taking immediate steps to ensure that education about climate change in New Jersey’s public schools is continued and expanded.