This blogpost about climate preparedness is part of the 2012 State of Green Business Report, published by GreenBiz, where I’m a senior writer. You can download a copy of the full report here.
Last December, government officials, corporate executives and activists met in Durban, South Africa, for high-level climate talks. They went home with an agreement … to keep talking. Meanwhile, we’re emitting more carbon dioxide every year, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are steadily rising. If CO2 levels were somehow to stabilize now–they won’t–the world will keep warming. The bottom line: Climate change is inevitable. The world needs to learn how to prepare for it.
Increasingly, smart businesses are starting to do just that. Utilities, the oil and gas industry, agricultural companies and insurers are building assumptions about rising temperatures and extreme weather events into their scenario planning. This is what’s being called climate adaptation or climate preparedness.
The payoff from investing in adaptation could be substantial. In 2011, insured losses in the U.S. from natural catastrophes, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, topped $105 billion, breaking the record of $101 billion set in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, according to Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm. Some of those losses had nothing to do with climate change, but others did. [click to continue…]