Can standardized resilience metrics support scaling up adaptation?
During Cervest’s attendance at COP26, one thing that really stood out is that Net Zero received far more attention than the need to build resilience and adapt with climate change.
During Cervest’s attendance at COP26, one thing that really stood out is that Net Zero received far more attention than the need to build resilience and adapt with climate change. Net Zero alone, while essential, is not sufficient for governments, businesses and individuals to survive our increasingly volatile climate. What we need to do is to scale up adaptation and resilience alongside Net Zero targets.
Resilience is a measure of our capacity to cope and respond to the physical impacts of climate change, and adaptation is the process of adjustment we need to make to build resilience. Everyone needs to understand how the physical impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events and long-term changes to global temperature and sea-level, are likely to affect their assets over the next few years and decades. Having access to Climate Intelligence is essential to knowing how to shore up, divest or invest in relation to climate risk.
Based on a 1.5°C scenario, 3.9 billion people will be exposed to climate hazards by 2030. The climate hazard with perhaps the biggest impact is heat stress, affecting a projected 1.9 billion. Sending a powerful visible message on loss and damage, Tuvalu's Foreign Minister Simon Kofe gave his COP26 speech standing knee-deep in seawater to draw attention to island nations threatened by rising sea levels. This message was echoed across many stories of damage and loss presented to the negotiators at COP26. The impacts of rising temperatures are projected to cost the global economy over $2.4 trillion dollars with the loss of 80 million jobs across the globe by 2030. Cervest’s recent survey found that 88% of companies have had one of the assets they own, manage or rely on affected by extreme weather events in the last five years, with 12% having all or almost all of their assets impacted. Decision makers cannot afford to ignore the need to build climate resilience for the future.
Given the lack of attention, how can we move adaptation further up the agenda? A lack of cohesive storytelling is one reason adaptation has been overlooked in comparison to Net Zero. Adaptation targets are much less defined than the clear 1.5°C target for mitigation. This makes it harder to measure and compare progress, and makes adaptation and climate resilience a more difficult concept to visualize and act on. We need to create strong narratives on resilience and adaptation and quantify it in ways that make resilience and adaptation tangible for people.
How can we scale up action on adaptation?
The first step towards climate resilience is true visibility into climate risk. Everyone needs to see and understand how climate change will physically impact them, their families and their communities. For this to happen, we need access to actionable, comparable, standardized data on resilience. During COP26, Nigel Topping announced that Race to Resilience has developed a metrics framework to support decision-making on climate resilience, and indicate what success on adaptation looks like. Here are the key points we’ve taken from the framework:
Resilience and Net Zero funding need to be equally balanced
Action on resilience will take funding. With climate volatility only set to increase, adaptation and resilience need to be given the same focus and funding as Net Zero. The UK has recently pledged £290 million towards a global Adaptation Fund. But this is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the estimated $100 trillion committed to enable Net Zero by 2050 through global financial alliances under Mark Carney's GFANZ. Measuring and quantifying resilience means that targets can be set, reported and tracked as part of national adaptation plans, hopefully scaling up both the volume and effectiveness of financing flows for climate resilience.
On an individual business level, Cervest’s recent survey found that 97% of businesses have plans to invest or build up climate-related skills, tools or knowledge over the coming year. This increased capacity for climate literacy will allow organisations to make informed decisions about their assets, where they need to invest, and what new opportunities are available to them.
We need shared, comparable, standardized resilience data
We need information that goes beyond collecting climate data. We need meaningful insight, which is standardized, sharable and looks into the future and doesn’t just inform us of what has already happened in the past. Scenario planning is essential for this - looking at multiple possible futures and how risk to your assets will change as global temperatures increase. This future-facing, decision ready insight is what Cervest calls “Climate Intelligence”.
Set resilience standards for building new infrastructure
Resilience is not just essential for adapting existing infrastructure, but also critical when building new assets. Planning needs to prioritize being climate resilient over being cost effective, using asset-level Climate Intelligence. This means that all new projects are designed with climate resilience built in, based on information about the climate hazards that are critical in their local area, whether this is heat stress, flooding or extreme rainfall.
Building resilience into every part of our day to day lives will be challenging. Regulations, such as those for mandatory climate-related financial disclosure are being put into place across the world, but this change is happening slowly. Companies that recognize the need to change, and change now, and put climate intelligence at the heart of every decision will gain a huge competitive advantage. They will be able to both protect their existing assets, and identify new opportunities and gain reputational benefits from younger, more climate aware customers.
For more information on Cervest, and how their EarthScan product can help businesses become climate intelligent, visit cervest.earth or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on mandatory climate-related financial disclosure download our ebook.