A month is a long time in climate politics. In the past few weeks, President Biden has ordered the United States’ financial and federal institutions to disclose their climate risk exposure. Shell has been ordered to reduce its total global carbon footprint by 45% in the next nine years – including throughout its supply chain. And, ExxonMobil is about to welcome its first board members with a low carbon agenda.
These developments clearly mark a shift in top-down policy approaches, shareholder activism, and legal battles when it comes to the fight against climate change. But what we notice is that much of this attention is focused on an accelerated transition towards decarbonisation.
What’s missing is the recognition that even in a low-carbon world we would all continue to face very real impacts from physical climate risks, whether from short-term extreme weather shocks such as flooding or wildfires, or from the longer-term deterioration of soils, water, and biodiversity. The real challenge is protecting what matters from their impact.
That’s why we welcome World Environment Day 2021’s call to revive and protect our ecosystems. Forests, peatlands, and even fisheries are just as vulnerable to the risks of a changing climate as man-made structures like offices, roads, and factories. And just like with buildings, we need to clearly quantify what the risks are in order to take steps to reduce their impact.
How climate-proof are our ecosystems?
The ability to see how climate volatility changes the facts on the ground over time is what we call Climate Intelligence. Knowing that a peat bog might dry out in the near future could galvanise minds around the urgent actions needed to save it before it’s too late.
Thanks to recent advances in statistical mathematics and computing, it is now possible to quantify not only how climate risks stand today, but also looking decades into the future. Gathering data from a variety of sources, researchers can infer physical climate risks right down to the level of individual assets: a factory, an office block – or a wetland or forest. We can look ahead at how climate change might affect these assets right up to the end of the century. Cervest is at the forefront of developing Climate Intelligence and making it available to all.
Knowledge is power
Better intelligence means the right actions get taken without delay. Armed with personalized insights into climate risks, communities, governments, and businesses can come together to help safeguard threatened ecosystems.
The big, global steps our largest corporations are taking are of course welcome news. However we celebrate World Environment Day as a reminder of the highly localized, yet widespread, impacts of climate change.
If you like what you’ve read and would like to help us deliver Climate Intelligence, we’re looking for talented experts across our organisation. Check out our vacancies or, if you’d like to talk to us further, get in touch.