Global warming and extreme weather caused by climate change are costing companies millions finds a new report from CDP released this month. The white paper titled, Major public companies describe climate-related risks and costs says, "Each year, CDP requests climate-change-related disclosures from public companies on behalf of a growing number of institutional investors. In 2014, the request for disclosure was sent on behalf of 767 institutional investors with $92 trillion in assets. This report presents key findings and responses provided by S&P 500 companies across economic sectors to the risk-related questions in CDP's annual disclosure requests from 2011 to 2013."
Companies reported risks such as damage to facilities, reduced product demand, lost productivity and necessitated write-offs, whose totals run into the millions of dollars.
The paper goes on to say, "Findings show that S&P 500 companies assess physical risks from climate change to be increasing in urgency, with physical disruptions and cost impacts already being felt.
45% of risks were described by companies as current or predicted to fall within the next 1-5 years in 2013, up from 26% in 2011
50% of the risks disclosed were described as more likely than not to virtually certain in 2013, up from 34% in 2011
68% of the disclosed physical risks were direct to operations in 2013, up from 51% in 2011"
This is not merely theory either. Approximately 60 companies gave examples of current and potential future risks and their associated costs in the research, including:
Wildfires in San Diego caused Sempra Energy’s costs to exceed its $1.1 billion of liability insurance coverage
Consolidated Edison’s costs related to Superstorm Sandy topped $431 million.
Gap reported higher material costs for cotton arising from precipitation changes and drought in China
Companies are poised to make a real difference in the fight on climate change while strengthening their bottom line. Mitigating the risks from climate change simply makes good business sense considering a study by Business for Social Responsibility published last month which says the exposure to the risks from climate change are on the rise. Some estimate the cumulative global cost could be as high as $4 trillion by 2030. The time to act is now. These costs are only going to increase the longer we delay investing in a low-carbon future.
Mac-Gray Campus Solution’s Lighten the Load™ initiative is reducing college carbon footprints while educating students on the benefits of making sustainable choices in the laundry room. We applaud the company for looking at the impact on the environment as a corporate priority. By encouraging campuses to reduce the environmental impact of their properties and facilities, and offering them environmentally responsible solutions to accomplish this objective, Mac-Gray is serving an important role to help campuses further their efforts to promote on campus sustainability. Since the start of the partnership six years ago, we are proud to report that Mac-Gray has mitigated over 107 million pounds of CO2 through external carbon reduction projects chosen to meet the voluntary guidelines set forth by the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).
In 2012, Mac-Gray supported our exceptional project located in the “lungs of the Earth” - the Brazilian Amazon. In the world's largest rainforest, the PURUS REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Project will protect over 85,000 acres from slash-and-burn forest clearing and prevent millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The Purus Project, the first ever REDD+ project in the State of Acre, to achieve dual-validation to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) with Gold Distinction, boasts many environmental and community benefits including: reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, mitigation of climate change, conservation of habitat for endangered and threatened species, improvement for local water quality, retaining of top soil and control erosion, establishing alternative sources of income and employment opportunities, and social projects and programs such as building a new school and health clinic. It is a high standard, cutting edge project that proves beneficial for both planet and people.
Carbonfund.org Foundation is a proud partner of Mac-Gray’s Lighten the Load program and we look forward to building on the great work that has been done over the past six years.
Scientists predict that in 50 years we’ll have lost almost 70% of our natural reefs. “Which is quite a heavy statistic,” says environmentally inspired artist, Jason deCaires Taylor. He is the focus of a documentary named, Angel Azul, exploring the weaving of art with an important environmental solution; the creation of artificial coral reefs.
You may be asking yourself why coral reefs are important to humans. The fact is that they’re important for several reasons. The first is that they provide us with resources and services worth many billions of dollars each year; namely through food, protection and jobs. Coral reef ecosystems support commercial and recreational fisheries and are tourism-related destinations that inject billions of dollars to local economies. Furthermore, healthy coral reefs are a natural shoreline buffer helping to protect us from waves, storms and floods. Lastly, coral reef plants and animals are important sources of new medicines being developed to treat cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, heart disease, viruses and other diseases.
"As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is … on the threshold of a new regime, with dire consequences for reef ecosystems unless we get control of climate change," said Richard Aronson, a biology professor at Florida Institute of Technology. He continues to add, "Local issues like pollution and overfishing are major destructive forces and they need to be stopped, but they are trumped by climate change, which right now is the greatest threat to coral reefs."
Taylor founded the Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA) in Cancun, Mexico, installing 400 life-like cement statues made from plaster molds of a diverse selection of human models. The documentary is named for a sculpture of an angel with outstretched arms and Gorgonian coral wings that gently flutter with the tide. The hope is that the Angel Azul will symbolize a guardian of the reef, protecting and nourishing the aquatic life around her. This kinetic sculpture is the first to be installed underwater.
Angel Azul the movie also features Paul Sánchez-Navarro, Director of The Ecological Center in Akumal, Mexico explaining the fragile state of the Yucatán's coral reefs and proposing solutions for their survival. The documentary’s narration is provided by actor, writer and social activist, Peter Coyote.
“Obviously this type of work is quite different from normal art projects. Because the main objective of it is about conservation; making an artificial reef, increasing the biomass underwater, creating habitat areas, aggregating fish” says Taylor.
Coral reefs are resilient. They can recover and re-grow, but only if climate change can be mitigated or reversed. We need to examine our lifestyles and find ways to reduce energy use. It will help our wallets and the environment.
The United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their climate change report on Friday that they produce about every five to six years. The IPCC’s last report was published in 2007. The UN created the IPCC to assess the science, risks and impacts of global warming, and the IPCC is considered the world's leading authority on climate change.
A press release from the IPCC says, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.”
“Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850, reports the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden.”
Extremely likely is an upgrade from a previous report that said it was very likely that human intervention was spurring climate change. The IPCC defines extremely likely as 95–100% probability of an outcome or a result, and very likely as 90–100% probability.
The report's authors do not conduct original research for the assessments, so the IPCC reports are primarily summaries of the state of the field. The findings are based on the aggregated results of the most recent published and peer-reviewed climate change research with more than 600 researchers from 32 countries reviewing more than 9,000 peer-reviewed studies for this report. They produced 2,000 pages of scientific analysis and worked through 56,000 comments.
Friday’s report represents the first of four sections that ultimately make up the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, or AR5. Other parts of the report examine socioeconomic impacts and potential ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.
US Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the UN report with this statement:
"Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate."
The bottom line is alarm bells should be going off as you read about this disturbing report. Each of us influences climate change and it should frighten you that some of its impacts are happening faster than originally expected. We need to do more to correct the problem. This massive and critical report points to long term implications if we do not embrace a sustainable, cleaner energy future posthaste.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed this week that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in America’s contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895. Despite this fact, news coverage of climate change actually declined in 2012. According to The Daily Climate, worldwide climate coverage decreased by two percent between 2011 and 2012, which represented the fewest number of published stories since 2009.
Last year the US was experience droughts in more than just rainfall. During the presidential election there were accusations of a “climate silence” until Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast in the days leading up to the election. In President Obama’s acceptance speech he said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
However, President Obama’s statement has not reassured everyone that he and Congress are going to make any meaningful efforts to tackle carbon pollution and climate change. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters and a coalition of 70 environmental organizations recently wrote an open letter to President Obama, which encouraged him to spotlight climate change during his second term. A quote from the letter includes, "Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership and credibility, enabling [President Obama] to create clean energy jobs in the United States while forging an effective international coalition to cut global carbon pollution."
Whether or not President Obama and Congress heed the global warming warning signs, the bright spot is that local governments are undertaking real strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change right now. ICLEI USA, a network of local governments working to address climate and sustainability challenges, recently highlighted 20 communities across the continental US that are leading the efforts to plan for the future and respond to extreme weather. Some particularly prominent examples by local governments include:
- Atlanta, GA – Urban heat island effects worsened by hotter seasons. Addressing the problem with a climate action plan, including cool roof/pavement standards and 10,000 new planted shade trees.
- Chicago, IL – Responding to extreme heat and flooding with the milestone Chicago Climate Action Plan and the most installed green roof square footage in the country.
- Eugene, OR – Ravaged by major wildfires and mega-dry conditions. Mitigating these issues by increasing water conservation, reducing hydroelectric power demand and planting drought-resistant trees.
- Miami Dade Count y, FL – Known as the most vulnerable city in the world to sea level rise as demonstrated by severe flooding. Urban planning now addresses sea level rise and disaster response, and they’re also investing millions in flood mitigation projects.
- New York, NY – Suffered $19 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Taking positive action with a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan, restoring barrier wetlands, and initiating a climate risk assessment requirement for new developments.
It’s wonderful to see these steps being taken towards a more sustainable future. It would be even better if federal leadership ensues, taking their cues from local governments. Media silence or not, climate change is here and further delayed action will only result in catastrophic results. The time is now to secure a low carbon global economy and thereby the planet for current and future generations.
Everyone has heard the saying that children are our future. Well, this week, a child spoke out about climate change and how the path we are on “with the earth warming, emissions and sea levels rising, our future here is questionable.”
Tcktcktck.org, the Global Campaign for Climate Action, offered young people around the world a chance for a Date with History by asking them, “If you had two minutes to tell the world's leaders what kind of future you want, what would you say?” The organization received nearly 200 video entries and thousands of votes. The winner was 17-year-old Brittany Trilford of New Zealand.
This eloquent young lady addressed heads of state from more than 130 nations on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 and spoke for the world’s approximately 3 billion children, roughly half of the Earth’s population, at this week's U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference is also called Rio+20 to mark the 20th anniversary of the initial Earth Summit.
“Our future is in danger. We are all aware that time is ticking and we are quickly running out” said Miss Trilford voicing many parents’ fears.
“The people [20 years ago] at the [first Earth] Summit knew there needed to be change… They made great promises... These promises are left, not broken, but empty.”
“We, the next generation, demand change; demand action, so that we can have a future.”
Watch Brittany Trilford’s moving speech on climate change here http://youtu.be/karQQb-B8Uk and click here to see The Future I Want: her winning entry for the Date with History contest http://youtu.be/hpxsvZ4eqZk.
Climate change mitigation is possible. Carbonfund.org provides a number of ways for individuals to make a difference and reduce their impact on climate change, including reducing emissions by supporting reforestation projects. Get involved now so we can build a sustainable world and ensure our children’s future.