COP27 is here, and the world is watching to see how ambition is turned into tangible climate action. Throughout COP, Policy and Advocacy Expert, Ashlyn Anderson, will be inviting Cervest’s subject matter experts to share their insights and perspectives on the key themes emerging from the conference.
Day 1: Think COP27 is a quiet one? I’d say pay attention to the details
Dr. Claire Huck, Head of CEO Office, shares her immediate thoughts on the opening days of COP27.
This year's Conference of the Parties (COP), has been widely viewed as a ‘quieter’ event than Glasgow last year. A quieter COP does not mean it’s less significant, though. In Glasgow we saw grandstanding and appearances from heads of states and CEOs. Attendees at the year’s COP are representative of the focus on implementation and the intention to showcase action on the ground.
With slow progress in delivering on commitments, the focus on implementation at this year’s COP27 is both strategic and essential. As UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the opening ceremony: “We are in the fight of our lives” - and we are losing. Although COP26 saw leaders reaffirm commitments to holding warming at or below 1.5˚C, efforts to-date fall woefully short of reaching this target, and we are currently on track to reach 2.5˚C of global warming by the end of the century. Only 24 countries have submitted updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) despite all countries signaling their intention to do so after COP26.
Major climate legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and the EU Green Deal signal accelerated buildout of clean infrastructure in the decade ahead. This time window is critical for demonstrating progress against national emissions targets. At the same time, we have increasingly standardized frameworks to guide private sector disclosure and reporting of climate-related risks. These not only bring accountability to corporate commitments, but they pave the way for more sophisticated climate risk insights that can guide private sector leadership in climate mitigation and adaptation.
While taking these first steps is crucial, we are still a long way from turning climate commitments into actions. Delivering on climate action means enacting large-scale systemic behavioral change across every sector and industry, which takes time. However, time is one thing we don’t have. The science is clear that we need to halve global emissions by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5˚C - this is just eight years away. Even as the world puts more energy into meeting these emissions targets, we also need to garner the same level of momentum for climate adaptation goals simultaneously.
To succeed, mitigation and adaptation efforts must be pursued in an integrated manner. Critical decarbonization projects funded over the next 5-10 years have to be built to withstand the impacts of climate change. It’s imperative that governments, the private sector, and project developers avoid costly maladaptation in every development decision that is made. Decisions we make now must be climate-informed and based on scientific data, because there is no second chance 10 years down the line if we get it wrong. To take the right actions, and make the right decisions we need access to the right information. That’s why it’s so crucial that we have shared visibility of climate risk and the insights to make sense of it so we can incorporate all the many dimensions of climate risk into decision-making.
So, to those who think COP27 will be quiet, I’d say listen carefully - it’s never been more important to pay attention to the details.
Day 4: why COP27 needs to deliver on adaptation finance
Dr. Helen Beddow, Climate Content and Knowledge Lead, explains why COP27 must help ensure climate finance is not postponed but enabled on Finance Day.
Egyptian President El-Sisi made climate finance a major focus of his opening speech, citing adaptation financing as a clear priority. Highlighting how central climate financing discussions are to the success of this year’s COP. El-Sisi invoked the responsibility of every country in attendance to do their part: “Our peoples expect us to take real and concrete steps towards reducing emissions, enhancing adaptation with the consequences of climate change, and providing the necessary financing for developing countries that suffer the most from the current climate crisis.”
Adaptation is not a new concept - addressing the impacts of climate change has been an active and ongoing discussion since the early 1990’s - but its financing has always been a contentious topic, fiercely contested during past negotiations. However, as the impacts of climate change become ever more apparent, it’s clear to deliver climate action financing for climate adaptation is just as necessary as financing decarbonization. The increased ambition to scale up finance for adaptation included in the Glasgow Pact following COP26 demonstrated that adaptation is finally being prioritized on the COP agenda. What do we need to see happen now, at COP27 to deliver on adaptation?
The impacts of climate change transcend national borders
Extreme weather events hit locally, but create cascading chains of impact that ripple out across broader social and economic business ecosystems. Across the globe, extreme weather events have become more frequent and more intense, resulting in significant financial loss and massive disruption to operations and supply chains far beyond directly impacted areas. In August 2022, a combination of drought and heat waves saw water scarcity lead to the rationing of hydroelectric power in southern China, shutting down factories in the manufacturing hub of Sichuan province and upending supply chains for the automobile and semiconductor industry.
The interconnected nature of climate risk creates unique challenges - our response needs to be similarly interconnected. Building climate resilience is not an individual endeavor. Within the negotiations, we need to see an acknowledgment that climate resilience is a collective resource. Adaptation financing has to flow across domestic borders to address the most vulnerable regions and geographies where adaptation is most urgent and necessary. This is not only a question of climate justice, it’s also essential to delivering climate resilience across any region, sector or industry.
Everyone needs to understand the magnitude of climate risk
The years spent overlooking adaptation in COP negotiations, and, subsequently, national policy, have led to a large knowledge gap when it comes to physical risk and adaptation. Bridging the gap between commitment and action means developing a better understanding of physical climate-related risks across all sectors, including the financial sector. We need to understand not just how we finance new projects, but also how we allocate resources and capital to protect existing investments and assets from the impacts of climate change.
The scale and speed of progress depends on access to standardized, comparable, and shareable climate risk data. A recent study from the European Central Bank found that when it came to identifying climate-related risks, 96% of banks had blind spots and this was a barrier to a comprehensive understanding of the magnitude of risk they face. The study attributed this large number of blind spots to a lack of asset-level, granular data. Regulators are acting now to support greater standardization of climate risk data, but companies and financial institutions can’t wait for their full implementation to start integrating actionable climate risk insights into their work that advancements in science and technology are already able to provide.
Adaptation financing has to be fit-for purpose
As climate risks become more apparent and create meaningful impacts on everyone’s day-to-day lives, so does the need for rapid implementation of adaptation strategies. This will require a major scale up of adaptation financing. However, traditional methods of understanding return on investment aren’t necessarily the best fit for valuing potential adaptation investments. Climate adaptation projects are preparing for risks based on projections of future climate scenarios which contain an inherent amount of uncertainty so it can be hard to gauge success and measure their impact. This is in part because adaptation is about preventing negative outcomes, and it’s harder to measure something that never happens. Adaptation financing decisions need to be based more on forward-looking analysis than historical data, which means moving away from traditional ways of benchmarking. We need to enable all sectors to do this kind of analysis.
Discussions also need to consider the implications of the channels they use to provide capital for adaptation funding. We need a combination of public and private sector capital and blended finance approaches to mobilize investments in climate adaptation that don’t leave developing countries burdened by debt. Climate finance must be about rewiring and redistributing the trillions of dollars circling the economy, based on an enhanced understanding of how climate risks affect financial systems.
Even with the best intentions to honor climate action commitments, untangling practical and effective adaptation financing from national economies and interests during the negotiations isn’t an easy task. But with the window of opportunity on 1.5˚C closing, we have no choice but to push forward. To get adaptation in place at the scale and speed that’s necessary, it’s critical that we get it right, and we do it now. It’s clear that the solutions are there if negotiations can overcome pockets of resistance to look beyond national borders.
At COP27, we need the balance of action to finally shift from postponing to enabling action on adaptation.
Visit our climate intelligence academy for more insights into climate adaptation.
Day 5: Science is an essential part of our Climate Action efforts
Today is science day at COP27. We asked Dr Gillian McCusker, one of our climate scientists at Cervest, why science needs to be at the heart of climate change solutions.
The last few years have made it clear that across the world climate volatility is accelerating. Climate hazards such as floods, drought, wildfire and heatwaves have always been part of history, but the frequency, intensity and the subsequent impact of these events is becoming more and more extreme.
Understanding the link between climate change, extreme events and their impact is essential for taking action, building resilience and preparing for the impacts of climate change. If we want policy and climate commitments to be implemented effectively, quickly and at scale then organizations and governments need accessible, science-backed insight into the physical climate risk facing their assets. This insight is essential for making decisions on how to build economic, social and environmental resilience for the future and planning how to protect, adapt and develop our assets.
Climate science is integral to our climate intelligence platform
Making climate science accessible is fundamental to the work we do at Cervest. To support the action that COP27 is campaigning for, we recognize the need to translate the complex, fragmented data on climate change into accessible, transparent, and decision-useful insight and ensure this gets into the hands of the people implementing climate action on the ground.
Our scientists and engineers integrate climate science, modeling and data through advanced machine learning techniques. Machine learning is particularly useful for tackling huge datasets such as climate data, and is the only way to get to grips with the sheer volume of climate data available. This has enabled us to create a climate intelligence platform, and our product, EarthScan™, that can assess physical climate risk in a way that is fast, scalable and multivariate. EarthScan was developed to place climate at the core of strategic, operational, and financial decisions by creating shared visibility on how climate change has, is and could affect the world's assets.
The science behind our signals
The most important part of developing climate intelligence is making it accessible and understandable - here is a brief overview on how our climate signals work.
The climate hazard signals built into EarthScan provide insights on evolving physical climate risk at an asset level. Our signals estimate exposure and impact for climate-related risk across several different climate hazards, including heat stress, drought, precipitation risk, wind risk, and flooding.
To generate our climate hazard signals, we developed a modeling framework that takes the best climate models available, at both regional and global scales, to understand how globally our climate will continue to change over time. Signals estimate the probability of a specific climate hazard at a specific intensity. They provide insights into the direct physical damage and the indirect exposure we could expect to see under continued climate change - from the physical damage extreme winds and flooding can do to an asset, to heat stress and drought exposure driving disruption through indirect impacts on local water and energy management.
Human activity is the biggest uncertainty when it comes to climate change, which is why we have incorporated different emissions scenarios into our platform. These cover a range of possible futures, from a world where warming is limited to 1.5 ℃ in line with the Paris Agreement, to a Business as Usual scenario where emissions continue unabated.
Our latest release is wildfire
It’s fitting that on Science day at COP27 we can share the latest signal we’ve released on our platform - Wildfire. Wildfire is a climate hazard that causes direct physical damage and disruption to assets around the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports that, in the United States alone, wildfires accounted for over USD11 billion in damage between 2021-2022. In Europe, the cost of this summer’s wildfires reached more than EUR8,1 billion with thousands of hectares of green space burnt as the continent battled record heat waves, worsened by climate change - a driver for the intense wildfire season.
With wildfire seasons extending and wildfire events increasing in frequency and intensity and reaching areas that were previously unaffected, it’s important for companies to understand the wildfire danger associated with their portfolios and raise their awareness of which assets should be prioritized for risk mitigation strategies. Our new wildfire signal gives users the capability to do just that - to interrogate their own asset inventories and visualize their evolving wildfire danger. This is ultimately what climate action depends on - making climate science accessible and actionable, and putting it in the hands of decision-makers.
Discover more about Cervest's science-backed climate intelligence product, EarthScan.
Day 6: How can COP27 move progress forward on decarbonization
Decarbonization Day at COP27 will feature the latest efforts across climate policy, finance, and technology to support the global transition to a low-carbon economy. Cervest’s Head of Transition Risk and Strategic Projects Jake Jurewicz is watching this space closely, so I asked him for his take on recent progress and the emerging developments that hold the most potential for decarbonization.
How much progress have we made on decarbonization since COP26?
No nation, either developed or developing, is taking all the steps necessary to adequately decarbonize. Since COP26, the world has been justifiably preoccupied with tensions over war in Ukraine, inflation, and recovery from the pandemic. However, even beyond these challenges, we are still seeing various countries and interest groups continue to impose arbitrary constraints on our ability to decarbonize as quickly and affordably as possible. Adequately decarbonizing means mobilizing every technology we have at our disposal (e.g. nuclear, hydrogen, wind, solar, geothermal). It also means making regulatory changes to enable faster deployment (e.g., permitting and licensing).
How important is the global methane pledge announced last year at COP26?
Stopping methane leakage is some of the lowest hanging fruit for combatting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Methane has 80 times more warming power than CO2 when released to the atmosphere and has a direct economic cost to all players in its value chain. The latest news from COP27 is that the U.S. and EU may be stepping up their efforts to put the right incentives in place to make this pledge even more effective at reducing methane emissions. Startups, NGOs, and oil & gas players have been making good progress on capping methane emissions, but the incentives driving this work may not translate to other emissions sources.
How far towards net zero can renewables and other low-carbon technologies take us?
We can accomplish a great deal of decarbonization with renewables, likely as high as 50% of the electric system, even as high as 70-80% in certain regions. However, there are limitations to renewables. Some renewable generators are inherently intermittent, fluctuating output based on when the sun is shining or wind is blowing appropriately. They are also non-dispatchable - we can’t increase supply on-demand. This is critical for the electric grid because supply must equal demand every instant of every day in perpetuity.
Due to these restrictions on source and supply, we will hit practical limits on the affordability of renewable energy. Specifically, newly added wind and solar generators produce power when there is already plenty of power on the grid from existing wind and solar generators (i.e. the value of each renewable megawatt-hour decreases as more renewables are added so society gets diminishing returns for each dollar of new capital invested).
Energy can be stored in batteries, dams, and a variety of new technologies, but the cost increases the longer one needs to store the energy. Some grid demands only emerge for a few hours every 3-5 years. It becomes prohibitively expensive to build a battery that is only used a few hours every 3 years. At a certain timescale, it becomes more economically viable to use a dispatchable generator. This threshold varies from region to region and depends on the cost of new transmission lines, energy storage technologies, demand-response, and the cost and availability of dispatchable (i.e available on demand) generators that are equally non-GHG emitting.
What do we do about hard-to-abate industrial sectors as well as shipping and aviation that cannot be readily decarbonized by traditional renewables like wind and solar?
Hard-to-abate sectors are sectors that cannot be directly electrified, such as aviation and shipping. We need to look to new - and even controversial technologies - such as synthetic electro-fuels and new forms of nuclear power. One of the most challenging sectors we need to address is agriculture and land use. It will take large-scale change of human behavior, which is not easy to do swiftly and at scale. In addition, moving towards synthetic meats, vertical precision farming and constraining deforestation will have affordability, cultural, and labor displacement consequences.
Which new technologies hold the most potential for decarbonization?
I am most excited about new forms of nuclear energy. If someone can provide an affordable form of nuclear energy that can be deployed quickly, it has the potential to dramatically shrink emissions in most sectors, drastically increase the density of the built environment to return land to nature, and do so while enriching people and economies around the world. Most decarbonization technologies simply try to replace a GHG emitting process with a substitute process that we can tolerate economically without drastically affecting standards of living. Nuclear energy has the capacity to decarbonize while enabling wholly new energy and power intensive economic activities.
Other technologies that hold tremendous potential are industrial electrification technologies such as electrofuels, hydrogen production, iron ore reduction, indoor agriculture, and direct air capture. The advantage of these technologies is that they can all make use of abundant and low-cost renewable power when it is available.
Lastly, fintech platforms with high data granularity provide the necessary visibility to enable clarity and public buy-in on the most prudent and affordable infrastructure investments in each locality from city-scale to building-scale. Data-driven approaches are integral as part of any decarbonization strategy.
At COP27, what will really signal progress on decarbonization?
There is growing policy support from countries around the world for the buildout of clean energy infrastructure, like the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States. At COP27 I’d like to see support for the adoption of more data-driven decisions frameworks for deploying and financing infrastructure. Relatedly, we also need to see more broad support for action to streamline regulations and remove permit constraints on infrastructure developers.
Finally, across the board, we need governments to remove constraints on all decarbonization technologies and use all policy tools and mechanisms available to support their development and deployment.
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Day 7: Managing the impacts of drought on food security
Today is Adaptation and Agriculture Day at COP27 and our Strategic Partnership and Business Development Manager, Charles Shingles, shares his thoughts on the relationship between drought, supply chain and agriculture.
As COP27 continues toward the end of the first week, the attention today turns to food security and climate-smart agriculture. One tangible impact of climate change severely impacting agriculture throughout this year has been drought and importantly, the knock-on effects to supply chains. Droughts around the world in 2022 have been some of the harshest on record, hitting global supply chains already under pressure from labor shortages, the war in Ukraine and China’s zero covid policy. The impact of severe drought in Europe, the US and China has not only compromised food security, but has disrupted power supply, shipping and manufacturing, rippling out across global supply chains and causing delays, shortages and price increases.
Climate change is making drought more likely
A recent study from the World Weather Attribution service estimated that droughts of this intensity can now be expected once every 20 years. Without climate change, events of this intensity would have been expected once every 400 years. This means that climate change made the droughts experienced across the northern hemisphere this year at least 20 times more likely.
Water scarcity is already a big problem in many regions, and the latest IPCC report estimated that roughly half of the world’s population currently experiences severe water scarcity for at least some part of the year. In many regions, the frequency and intensity of drought is expected to increase with climate change, especially in arid and semi-arid climates such as the Mediterranean.
Drought disrupts operations and supply chains
The impact of drought can be felt clearly across operational aspects of the food and agricultural industry. For example, lower water in shipping channels can lead to the inability to transport raw materials and goods at their normal capacity, it can restrict trade, increase shipping costs and leave goods piling up in storage. Increased shipping and storage costs are often passed down to consumers. With Europe experiencing its worst drought in 500 years this summer, low water levels impacted river shipping on the Rhine, an important shipping route for commodities such as grains, chemicals and minerals. Meanwhile in the US, water levels in the Mississippi, the biggest river shipping channel for US grain exports, have dropped to record lows, slowing down food exports.
Adapting and building resilience into supply chains
Current supply chain issues highlight how vulnerable supply chains are to extreme weather events. Drought creates direct and indirect risks to operations and revenue for many industries, especially those that use large quantities of water in their operational processes, such as the agriculture, textile, chemical and automobile industries or depend on river shipping channels to move goods and commodities to global markets.
Since the pandemic, organizations have been evaluating and investing in rethinking and redesigning supply chain strategies. This includes increasing inventory storage capabilities by placing them nearer to customers, mapping out alternative supply chain flows and increasing inventory levels so that materials shortages don’t halt production. To build climate resilient supply chains, drought risk management needs to be part of these strategies.
However, supply chains are often extremely large and highly complex. To build physical risk management, including drought risk management, into supply chain strategies companies need visibility of their physical risk, and the physical risk of their suppliers. Building climate resilient supply chains will mean increasing collaboration between different parties in supply chains, so they can build a shared understanding of their climate risks.
This is why drought is one of the signals we’re developing at Cervest. The drought signal captures how arid different geographies are, providing information about current drought exposure and how it might evolve in the future for a given location. EarthScan™ gives organizations the climate intelligence they need to incorporate physical climate risk – including drought – specifically into their strategy at an asset-level, so they can build resilience to the physical impacts of climate change.
Day 9: Our infinite need for water - taking action on water security.
The second week of COP27 kicks off with Gender and Water Day. Our Head of CEO Office, Dr. Claire Huck, sits down with inaugural Climate Intelligence Council member, Dr. Karen McKinnon, Assistant Professor of Statistics and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to get her thoughts on water scarcity.
Inaugural Climate Intelligence Council member, Dr. Karen McKinnon is Assistant Professor of Statistics and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her research sits at the nexus of climate science and statistics and is aimed at improving our understanding of climate extremes, variability, and change. As such, she is no stranger to trying to untangle the complex behaviors of the increasingly volatile and extreme climate hazards that we are experiencing as we continue to warm our planet.
Climate change and water scarcity
When I spoke to Karen a week ago about sharing her thoughts on water scarcity and climate change, she replied ‘Ironically, as I write these words, we're finally getting our first big seasonal rain here today and tomorrow’. In fact, as of Nov 8th, the US Government Drought website classified over 50% of the US states as experiencing drought conditions from this exceptionally dry year. But how does water scarcity affect us at a global scale and how can science help us to take better actions? For today’s COP27 theme of Water and Gender, Karen shares with us her observations from a very hot and dry California.
“Water is a key resource across society in so many ways. There is an infinite need for water in industry, for crops and of course, for drinking. Climate change will undoubtedly affect that availability, and consequently cause knock-on effects to food security, resources and supply chain disruption globally. The summer of 2022 has provided yet more evidence of the importance of addressing climate change, with heatwaves, wildfire, and flooding spanning the United States and much of the Northern Hemisphere.
In the American West, the drought conditions that began around the turn of the century are continuing, leading to unprecedented low levels of water availability and discussions of how to reallocate water across the region. Our best estimate is that about 50% of the drought is directly linked to human-caused climate change, suggesting that we will need to continue to prepare for dry conditions going forward. However, the decisions made at COP27 this week will help determine just how dry and hot the West -- and other regions around the globe -- will get.
"...the decisions made at COP27 this week will help determine just how dry and hot the West -- and other regions around the globe -- will get."
Taking action on water security at a functional level is made more difficult because regional hydroclimates are very challenging to understand. In California for example, temperatures are getting hotter and conditions drier. The main source of water in California is snowpack (reservoirs that release water slowly through the year supplying a consistent water source). Our warming temperatures now mean that snowpack accumulation has decreased and what is there melts earlier, leading to droughts in summer. To take the most effective action with tangible results at a local level, we need to understand these regional impacts from climate change and how to prepare for them to build our resilience.
Major progress has been made addressing climate change over the past five years, but we still have a long way to go. My hope is that this year’s COP can bring further commitments to emissions reductions from the developed world, as well as support for the developing world to bypass a fossil fuel-based future.”
For more insights from our Climate Intelligence Council, visit our Climate Intelligence Academy.
Day 10: Effective action means identifying the links between climate change and human health
In the run-up to COP27, the Lancet released a report on the relationship between climate change and health, called ‘Health at the Mercy of Fossil Fuels’. We asked CIC member and co-author of the Lancet Report, Prof. Dominic Kniveton to share his thoughts.
Climate change impacts everyone's mental and physical health
As climate change progresses, the links between climate change and negative impacts on health are becoming increasingly clear. Although medicine has made great strides over the last few decades, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, coordinator of WHO’s climate change and health programme warns that “Unmitigated climate change has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health”.
Climate change leads to negative outcomes through both direct and indirect channels. The most recent IPCC report concluded that mortality and negative health impacts during extreme heat events are increasing across the world. Increasingly extreme changes in regional climate are prolonging the impact and spread of disease distributions. Shifting climate zones and warming coastal waters expand the territories of pathogens and disease carrying insects, such as malaria-carrying mosquitos. In addition the IPCC found that mental health challenges, such as anxiety and stress, are expected to increase with global warming, particularly for younger and older people, and those with underlying health conditions. The World Health Organization estimates that, between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths a year.
A major point in the negotiations at COP27, the negative economic and social consequences of additional health risks, will further affect our most vulnerable populations, already struggling to manage the physical impacts of climate change. It is predominantly within these communities that climate extremes are driving the forced displacement of millions of people, who no longer have access to basic human needs. International think tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace recently estimated that the number of ‘climate refugees’ will reach 1.2 billion by 2050. Climate migrants are particularly vulnerable to detrimental health effects through the removal of existing healthcare support as well as exposure to disease and risk through poor living conditions, unreliable or insufficient food and water resources and lack of sanitation and adequate shelter.
Indirectly, increasingly volatile conditions will put significant pressure on infrastructure and resources currently supporting healthcare. Extreme events can disrupt health services by limiting physical access, affecting power infrastructure and reducing the ability of the health services to provide healthcare. The cost of repairing physical damage to healthcare services, and losses due to service disruption takes money away from where it should be spent - healthcare services themselves. Successive climate hazards will over time erode the healthcare system's resilience, especially when they hit before the area or region has had a chance to recover from previous events.
Successive climate hazards will over time erode the healthcare system's resilience, especially when they hit before the area or region has had a chance to recover from previous events.
Becoming more effective, less efficient
Since the start of 2022, the world has already experienced at least 29 billion-dollar weather disasters. It is an economic trend that can’t be sustained and needs to be addressed both by adapting what we have to cope as well as future-proofing our environments through building resilience into decision-making from the very start. CIC member Prof Dominic Kniveton has long been advocating for shifting mindsets to long term effectiveness over short term efficiency, and the healthcare system is no exception. ‘Becoming a more effective organization over the long-term means changing the decision-making process to be more flexible to new information as it arises and more robust to a range of futures’. He believes that we need to understand more about the direct and indirect causal chains and contexts between environmental management, health service provision and disease.
‘There is evidence that at a national and international level, resource exploitation is linked to poor health outcomes. This may be partly because the externalities of resource extraction are absorbed by local populations rather than costed into the resource value chain - these might involve local pollution, soil degradation or water shortages which are then exacerbated by the effects of climate change’ Dominic suggests. This continuing cycle of destruction also creates favorable conditions for disease, famine and ultimately leads to forced migration.
The role of climate intelligence in managing risk
To mitigate the negative health outcomes of climate change, it is important to drill down into asset-level climate risks that impact people and healthcare services at an individual level. Being able to integrate this risk into adaptation and resilience strategies to manage health, disease and population security is vital to future-proofing social security. Understanding exposure to climate hazards across the different parts of the healthcare sector and accessing comprehensive visibility of physical risk is the first step to effective adaptation planning for the long-term.
‘This is how climate intelligence sets boundaries for robust and flexible decision-making, opening up a long term view on strategic decision-making’ adds Dominic. Climate intelligence can be used to identify where infrastructure is exposed to climate hazards or which buildings to prioritize when it comes to adaptation measures such as retro-fitting to cope with extreme heat. Equally, climate intelligence can help us understand where not to build new resources such as hospitals, or new critical infrastructure.
The links between climate change and negative health outcomes are a good demonstration that climate change brings with it complex challenges that require us to look at how systems are interconnected. This is why sharable, comparable and standardized intelligence on physical climate risk is essential to joined-up decision-making and implementation on adaptation. Creating a better understanding of climate risk not only in the healthcare sector but across all industries and communities means that adaptation efforts and dollars are more likely to be channeled into decisions that return investment by creating more resilient healthcare services for more resilient communities.
Download our free ebook to learn how climate intelligence can help build climate-resilient infrastructure.
Day 11: How natural capital will help us build a climate-resilient future for our planet
Cervest Head of Earth Science Greta C. Vega shares her thoughts on the significance of Biodiversity Day at COP27
Coming up in December is the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), “a Paris moment for biodiversity” according to the conference’s leader Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. A new Global Biodiversity Framework may soon exist for governments and companies to rally behind. Biodiversity Day at COP27 is an opportunity to underscore the interconnectedness of climate change and nature loss and build support for decisive action at COP15 in December.
Climate change and nature loss are some of the biggest global challenges before us and there’s increasing awareness from governments, companies, and communities that they are interconnected challenges. This was a big focus of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report earlier this year, which emphasized the importance of advancing climate solutions that are systemic and that take into account climate, people, and nature.
Climate change presents multiple risks to nature, and humans have already altered 75% of land, and 66% of marine environments. These two impacts combined have knock-on effects on ecosystem services. Human society relies on ecosystem services, which support health and well-being directly by providing food and water and by regulating environmental conditions (air purification, carbon sequestration, and protecting against hazards such as floods), or indirectly, such as in supply chains. These services are worth an estimated USD125 trillion annually, and more than half of the world’s GDP is moderately to highly dependent on them.
At Cervest, we describe a natural capital asset as an area with a defined geographic boundary, that, through its stocks of renewable and non-renewable resources, yields a flow of benefits known as ecosystem services.
Natural capital assets are the forests in a supply chain, agricultural fields, or estates–any area that contains stocks of natural resources. And these resources can provide a variety of ecosystem services that we call flows. From those stocks and flows, the goal is to derive a metric that captures the holistic value of natural capital assets and their services. This could be measured in monetary terms such as dollars saved from flood risk reduction or revenue streams from carbon capture potential, or in non-monetary terms such as metrics for human health or alignment with global goals.
For organizations looking to incorporate nature-related risks into their business strategies, this journey starts with an understanding of where and how their organization depends on natural areas. For example, a riverfront hotel may be unaware that upstream mangrove forests are reducing flood risk to their property. Further, the hotel likely does not have an understanding of how those mangroves may be at risk in the coming decades–let alone what kinds of climate risks exist and how climate resilient the mangroves are to those risks. Ultimately, though, that hotel needs to be able to understand how these changes may impact their property, workers, or customers financially or otherwise.
Organizations are turning their attention to initiatives such as the Taskforce for Nature-Related Disclosures (TNFD) in recognition of the prevalence of nature-related risks. The TNFD enables organizations to understand and incorporate environmental risks and opportunities into their decision-making, with an aim of shifting finances towards nature-positive outcomes. We are proud to be supporting their work as a member of the TNFD Forum.
Still, the world has a long way to go in our understanding of natural capital assets and the risks that threaten their value. What is critical is that we merge conversations about climate and nature given their interconnectedness and the potential for collaborative win-win solutions that benefit both. In the process, we also open up opportunities to incorporate Indigenous and community-based knowledge that can transform our approaches to these challenges. That’s what I hope to see in biodiversity discussions at COP27.
Join the discussion about biodiversity on Twitter.
Day 12: Solutions need to empower people to make climate-informed decisions
Dr. Helen Beddow, Climate Content and Knowledge Lead, explains why climate action requires solutions, such as climate intelligence, that scale and empower individual decision-makers.
Solutions day at COP27 is a good opportunity to clarify what is meant by solutions and define exactly what the world is calling for. In the context of COP27, solutions are needed to support implementation and facilitate the climate action we desperately need. When it comes to climate change - how do we bridge the gap between ambition and action, to deliver tangible, real-world outcomes.
Individual decisions can add up to solve a planet-sized problem
One of the difficulties when it comes to climate action is the size and complexity of the problem. How can we make a dent on solving what is a literal planet-sized problem, driven by the complex interplay between the physics of our climate system and human activity? We know that we need to halve global emissions by 2030 to ensure climate stability. But in order to drive meaningful behavioral change at scale, climate science needs to be accessible to the people who are collectively making millions of decisions all over the world everyday.
How do we ensure that people can make climate-informed decisions that add up to meaningful climate action? It’s worth recognizing that the problem we are facing - climate change - is the result of billions of uninformed decisions. Climate solutions emerge from the millions and millions of decisions made by empowered people in businesses, governments, NGOs, and communities over the next decade.
How machine learning unlocks climate solutions that can scale
Everyone has to be better informed if they are to make the right decisions for their future. Solutions have to be implemented swiftly and at scale, and integrated into decision making workflows to drive action. This is where machine learning comes in. Machine Learning (ML) is technology with the capability to learn about the data, and identify patterns much more efficiently than humans can. Machine learning can be applied to many different data sets to solve a wide variety of problems, from recommending songs to locating shipwrecks. It’s especially useful for tackling big datasets such as climate data, which tend to be very large, fragmented and come from multiple sources in multiple formats. ML algorithms perform complex calculations that can consist of thousands, or even millions, of individual data points.
Advances in machine learning and other types of artificial intelligence technologies enable solutions that provide climate intelligence granular enough so that an individual can identify and act on the risks associated with climate change at a personal level. The application of ML to climate science has made granular, asset-level analysis of climate-related risks possible, turning unwieldy and inaccessible data into decision-useful insights which become crucial for incorporating climate resilience into assets, strategies, financial diligence and supply chain actions.
This is the solution we at Cervest have built with EarthScan–access to climate intelligence built on core scientific foundations, that gives an accurate and comprehensive view of asset-level climate risk. By leveraging machine learning algorithms to bring together large amounts of climate data into one platform, climate intelligence enables everyone to discover and analyze physical risk quickly, scalably and across multiple timelines, climate scenarios and climate hazards such as extreme temperatures, flooding and drought. The insights that climate intelligence provides empowers individuals to make climate-informed decisions about assets, critical infrastructure, or adaptation strategies that together amount to meaningful climate action.
Find out more about how insight from Cervest’s climate intelligence platform EarthScan is solving the problems of ESG, sustainability, risk and asset managers in our ebook - Powering action with climate intelligence.
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